Neural mechanisms of social risk for psychiatric disorders

Nat Neurosci. 2012 Apr 15;15(5):663-8. doi: 10.1038/nn.3083.


Mental health and social life are intimately inter-related, as demonstrated by the frequent social deficits of psychiatric patients and the increased rate of psychiatric disorders in people exposed to social environmental adversity. Here, we review emerging evidence that combines epidemiology, social psychology and neuroscience to bring neural mechanisms of social risk factors for mental illness into focus. In doing so, we discuss existing evidence on the effects of common genetic risk factors in social neural pathways and outline the need for integrative approaches to identify the converging mechanisms of social environmental and genetic risk in brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Calcium Channels / genetics
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Gene-Environment Interaction
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / genetics
  • Mental Disorders / pathology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Receptors, Oxytocin / genetics
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Behavior*


  • CACNA1A protein, human
  • Calcium Channels
  • OXTR protein, human
  • Receptors, Oxytocin