About this Research Topic
An extraordinary increase of the interest in adolescent brain development has characterized these last two decades, accompanied by an incredible surge of research in this field. This comes from the awareness that a better knowledge of neurodevelopmental changes might help in finding more appropriate strategies to treat brain disorders, typically appearing during adolescence, and to put in place public health strategies and policies to modify the environment for salutary effects.
Adolescence represents a critical transition period between childhood and adulthood characterized by heightened emotional reactivity, sensation and novelty seeking, risk taking behavior, sensitivity to peer influence, impulsivity, accompanied by a poor capacity of self-control on actions and emotions. These behavioral features are triggered by marked hormonal and neurobiological changes impacting specific brain regions. These regional neurobiological changes across development have been posited to be at the basis of the imbalance in functional brain circuitries leading to dysregulation of emotions and actions.
This is also a peak time for clinical onset of most mental illnesses, as well as substance use disorders, the time of several major choices having life-long consequences, and a time when brain plasticity may make interventions more effective.
While the role played by the individual genetic makeup in shaping behavior is well recognized, it is less known that genetic influences show marked changes across development. This highlights the dynamic nature of genetic influence on human behavior.
Twin studies have demonstrated the changing degree of genetic and environmental influences across adolescence, with a greater influence of the environment at earlier stages of adolescence and that of genetic background in later stages of this time frame. Thus, the complex interplay between genes and environment renders the separation of genetic and environmental etiological risk factors elusive.
The main focus of this Research Topic will be to uncover neurobiological changes across adolescence leading to increased vulnerability to drug use disorders and other behavioral disorders, and/or how genotype might affect this vulnerability.
Every type of contribution is welcomed (original research articles, reviews, commentaries), in both animal model and human studies with the belief that only a multidisciplinary approach will help to develop and target treatments depending on age and genetic makeup of the individual.
Keywords: Adolescence, behavior genetics, addiction, brain development, mental diseases
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.