Environmental influence in the brain, human welfare and mental health

Nat Neurosci. 2015 Oct;18(10):1421-31. doi: 10.1038/nn.4108. Epub 2015 Sep 25.


The developing human brain is shaped by environmental exposures--for better or worse. Many exposures relevant to mental health are genuinely social in nature or believed to have social subcomponents, even those related to more complex societal or area-level influences. The nature of how these social experiences are embedded into the environment may be crucial. Here we review select neuroscience evidence on the neural correlates of adverse and protective social exposures in their environmental context, focusing on human neuroimaging data and supporting cellular and molecular studies in laboratory animals. We also propose the inclusion of innovative methods in social neuroscience research that may provide new and ecologically more valid insight into the social-environmental risk architecture of the human brain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Social Environment*
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*