About this Research Topic
Early-life stress is a contributor to mental disorders across the lifespan. Epidemiological studies have demonstrated that early-life stress contributes not just to risk of mental disorders but substantially to the risk of physical disease as well. It is also clear that stress during early development has distinct effects upon the nervous system when compared to trauma and stress experienced in adulthood. Developmental stress has the capacity to program and canalize the nervous system in ways that can profoundly alter how it responds to future insults. These effects can be observed at molecular, neuroanatomical, functional and behavioral levels. These changes, mediated through alterations in neuroendocrine and neuroimmune reactivity, can have complex and lasting consequences for multiple organ systems that range beyond the brain to the gut and to the cardiovascular system. Changes in cognition and behavior resulting from early-life stress also contribute to social pathologies such as delinquency, decreased school performance, and increased incarceration. For these reasons, arriving at a mechanistic understanding of how stress programs the brain in early life is a first order concern with significant implications for public health, public policy and neuroscience.
This Research Topic will examine the many ways in which early-life stress programs the brain and consequently the body across the lifespan. Further, we will examine factors, which may prove protective against early life stress. We will include contributions from intersecting disciplines that seek to advance our understanding of how early life stress changes the nervous system from basic science, clinical and community perspectives.
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