Epigenetics, Development, and Psychopathology

Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2020 May 7:16:327-350. doi: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-050718-095530. Epub 2020 Feb 21.


Epigenetic mechanisms govern the transcription of the genome. Research with model systems reveals that environmental conditions can directly influence epigenetic mechanisms that are associated with interindividual differences in gene expression in brain and neural function. In this review, we provide a brief overview of epigenetic mechanisms and research with relevant rodent models. We emphasize more recent translational research programs in epigenetics as well as the challenges inherent in the integration of epigenetics into developmental and clinical psychology. Our objectives are to present an update with respect to the translational relevance of epigenetics for the study of psychopathology and to consider the state of current research with respect to its potential importance for clinical research and practice in mental health.

Keywords: early experience; epigenetics; gene transcription; gene × environment interactions; neurodevelopment; psychopathology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Gene-Environment Interaction*
  • Human Development*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders*