International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

ISTSS Online Learning Library


Promoting the advancement and exchange of knowledge about traumatic stress is a core mission of ISTSS. Our online learning library contains video and audio recordings of conference presentations and recordings of past webinars.

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Genomic Regulation by Early Life Experience: Epigenetics and Psychopathology

Gustavo Turecki, MD, PhD
Recorded in 2015
1.5 credits
ConferenceAudio with synched slidesEligible for the Advanced Training Certificate Program

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The early-life environment has important consequences on behavioral development, and specifically, adversity experienced during early life is associated with increased risk for psychopathology in adulthood. Only until recently have we started to uncover some of the mechanisms accounting for the behavioral changes induced by early-life adversity. The epigenome is responsive to the environment and indeed, landmark studies in rodents have described variations in early-life environment that stably regulate the expression of key gene systems involved in behavioral and emotional responses by epigenetic processes. Thus, through epigenetic regulation, earlylife adversity is capable of altering behavioral development and increasing the vulnerability toward psychopathology. In this lecture, Dr. Turecki will review studies that indicate that early-life adversity leads to differential epigenetic regulation of key biological systems, which in turn increase risk of psychopathology. He will discuss novel epigenetic mechanisms and consider important methodological issues in epigenetic studies of behavioral phenotypes in humans.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain different types of epigenetic mechanisms.
  • Examine the evidence suggesting that early-life adversity associates with differential epigenetic regulation.
  • Examine methodological issues in epigenetic studies of behavioral phenotypes in humans.