Resilience priming: Translational models for understanding resiliency and adaptation to early life adversity

Dev Psychobiol. 2019 Apr;61(3):350-375. doi: 10.1002/dev.21775. Epub 2018 Oct 11.


Despite the increasing attention to early life adversity and its long-term consequences on health, behavior, and the etiology of neurodevelopmental disorders, our understanding of the adaptations and interventions that promote resiliency and rescue against such insults are underexplored. Specifically, investigations of the perinatal period often focus on negative events/outcomes. In contrast, positive experiences (i.e. enrichment/parental care//healthy nutrition) favorably influence development of the nervous and endocrine systems. Moreover, some stressors result in adaptations and demonstrations of later-life resiliency. This review explores the underlying mechanisms of neuroplasticity that follow some of these early life experiences and translates them into ideas for interventions in pediatric settings. The emerging role of the gut microbiome in mediating stress susceptibility is also discussed. Since many negative outcomes of early experiences are known, it is time to identify mechanisms and mediators that promote resiliency against them. These range from enrichment, quality parental care, dietary interventions and those that target the gut microbiota.

Keywords: early life adversity; enrichment; microbiome; parental care; resiliency; translational research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*