Critical Periods

Refers to a time during which certain experiences or influences have a deterministic (positive or negative) affect. Although the terms “critical periods” and “sensitive periods” are often used interchangeably in the literature, there are relatively few, if any, critical periods outside of the biological arena. From a biological or molecular perspective, there can be several critical periods such as during gestational periods or with exposure to mutagens and other carcinogenic agents (see sensitive periods below).