Long-term effects of early environment on the brain: Lesson from rodent models

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2018 May:77:81-92. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2017.09.039. Epub 2017 Oct 7.


The postnatal period is characterized by extensive neuronal plasticity, synaptic organization, and remodeling. High neuroplasticity renders the brain sensitive to the remodeling effects induced by environmental factors, such as exposure to adversity, which can imprint neurochemical, neuroendocrine, morphological, and behavioral changes. Early experiences that influence developmental trajectories during maturation of the brain can have a wide range of long-lasting effects, modulating stress-coping strategies in adult life and inducing vulnerability or resilience to psychopathologies, depending on the gene×later experience interplay. Future studies will clarify how manipulation of the early environment induces these effects acting on genetic and epigenetic factors.

Keywords: Animal models; Early environment; Gene-environment interplay; Plasticity; Postnatal manipulations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Environment
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / psychology
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiology
  • Mental Disorders / etiology*
  • Mental Disorders / genetics
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mice
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiology
  • Psychopathology
  • Rats
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*