Research Topic

Effects of Early Life Stress on Neurodevelopment and Health: Bridging the Gap Between Human Clinical Studies and Animal Models

About this Research Topic

Childhood maltreatment is a diverse group of adversities that include, erratic parenting, different forms of abuse and neglect, and severe bullying by peers. Childhood maltreatment is recognized as one of the most significant risk factors for a range of psychiatric and medical conditions, with an estimated cost of $2 trillion annually in the US alone. Different types of childhood maltreatment (e.g. neglect vs. abuse) appear to induce somewhat different developmental and behavioral consequences. In many cases, different types of maltreatment co-exist and interact to increase the risk for numerous pathologies in a dose-dependent manner. Precisely how different types of adversities alter neurodevelopment and how multiple adversities early in life interact to increase the risk of such a broad range of health-related conditions in adulthood are important questions that are difficult to address in humans. In this regard, animal models of early life stress have provided some important mechanistic insights into some of these questions. However, much of the clinical and preclinical effort run in parallel tracts with little interaction and dialogue between researchers that study these questions in humans and in animal models.

The goal of this Research Topic is to solicit input from researchers on both sides of this “scientific river” on specific areas and methodologies to study key clinical questions in animals and suggestions on how to validate important mechanistic preclinical findings in humans.

We welcome articles addressing the following subtopics and other challenges of investigating the consequences of childhood adversity in humans and animals.

• Modeling and quantifying abusive and erratic parental behavior in humans and animal studies.
• The effects of different types (e.g. neglect vs. threat) and timing of adversities on the development of circuits that regulate threat detection, stress reactivity, reward sensitivity, impulsivity, pain, and immune response.
• The mechanisms by which multiple adversities interact to increase the risk for a broad range of health-related outcomes in a dose-dependent manner.
• The utility of imaging techniques such as resting-state fMRI, diffusion MRI, positron emission tomography to study connectivity, myelination, and immune activation in animals and humans exposed to early adversity.
• The role that sex and Individual differences play in mediating vulnerability and resiliency to childhood adversity.
• The use of peripheral biomarkers to assess early adversity and their relationship to developmental and behavioral changes.


Keywords: Childhood adversity, early life stress, neurodevelopment, health, animal models, imaging, peripheral biomarkers


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Childhood maltreatment is a diverse group of adversities that include, erratic parenting, different forms of abuse and neglect, and severe bullying by peers. Childhood maltreatment is recognized as one of the most significant risk factors for a range of psychiatric and medical conditions, with an estimated cost of $2 trillion annually in the US alone. Different types of childhood maltreatment (e.g. neglect vs. abuse) appear to induce somewhat different developmental and behavioral consequences. In many cases, different types of maltreatment co-exist and interact to increase the risk for numerous pathologies in a dose-dependent manner. Precisely how different types of adversities alter neurodevelopment and how multiple adversities early in life interact to increase the risk of such a broad range of health-related conditions in adulthood are important questions that are difficult to address in humans. In this regard, animal models of early life stress have provided some important mechanistic insights into some of these questions. However, much of the clinical and preclinical effort run in parallel tracts with little interaction and dialogue between researchers that study these questions in humans and in animal models.

The goal of this Research Topic is to solicit input from researchers on both sides of this “scientific river” on specific areas and methodologies to study key clinical questions in animals and suggestions on how to validate important mechanistic preclinical findings in humans.

We welcome articles addressing the following subtopics and other challenges of investigating the consequences of childhood adversity in humans and animals.

• Modeling and quantifying abusive and erratic parental behavior in humans and animal studies.
• The effects of different types (e.g. neglect vs. threat) and timing of adversities on the development of circuits that regulate threat detection, stress reactivity, reward sensitivity, impulsivity, pain, and immune response.
• The mechanisms by which multiple adversities interact to increase the risk for a broad range of health-related outcomes in a dose-dependent manner.
• The utility of imaging techniques such as resting-state fMRI, diffusion MRI, positron emission tomography to study connectivity, myelination, and immune activation in animals and humans exposed to early adversity.
• The role that sex and Individual differences play in mediating vulnerability and resiliency to childhood adversity.
• The use of peripheral biomarkers to assess early adversity and their relationship to developmental and behavioral changes.


Keywords: Childhood adversity, early life stress, neurodevelopment, health, animal models, imaging, peripheral biomarkers


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

31 October 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

31 October 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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