Environmental and genetic influences on neurocognitive development: The importance of multiple methodologies and time-dependent intervention
Genetic mutations and environmental factors dynamically influence gene expression and developmental trajectories at the neural, cognitive, and behavioral levels. The examples in this article cover different periods of neurocognitive development-early childhood, adolescence, and adulthood-and focus on studies in which researchers have used a variety of methodologies to illustrate the early effects of socioeconomic status and stress on brain function, as well as how allelic differences explain why some individuals respond to intervention and others do not. These studies highlight how similar behaviors can be driven by different underlying neural processes and show how a neurocomputational model of early development can account for neurodevelopmental syndromes, such as autism spectrum disorders, with novel implications for intervention. Finally, these studies illustrate the importance of the timing of environmental and genetic factors on development, consistent with our view that phenotypes are emergent, not predetermined.