Developmental psychopathology in an era of molecular genetics and neuroimaging: A developmental neurogenetics approach

Dev Psychopathol. 2015 May;27(2):587-613. doi: 10.1017/S0954579415000188.


The emerging field of neurogenetics seeks to model the complex pathways from gene to brain to behavior. This field has focused on imaging genetics techniques that examine how variability in common genetic polymorphisms predict differences in brain structure and function. These studies are informed by other complimentary techniques (e.g., animal models and multimodal imaging) and have recently begun to incorporate the environment through examination of Imaging Gene × Environment interactions. Though neurogenetics has the potential to inform our understanding of the development of psychopathology, there has been little integration between principles of neurogenetics and developmental psychopathology. The paper describes a neurogenetics and Imaging Gene × Environment approach and how these approaches have been usefully applied to the study of psychopathology. Six tenets of developmental psychopathology (the structure of phenotypes, the importance of exploring mechanisms, the conditional nature of risk, the complexity of multilevel pathways, the role of development, and the importance of who is studied) are identified, and how these principles can further neurogenetics applications to understanding the development of psychopathology is discussed. A major issue of this piece is how neurogenetics and current imaging and molecular genetics approaches can be incorporated into developmental psychopathology perspectives with a goal of providing models for better understanding pathways from among genes, environments, the brain, and behavior.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Gene-Environment Interaction*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / genetics*
  • Mental Disorders / pathology
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology
  • Neuroimaging*
  • Phenotype