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Annu Rev Psychol. 2005;56:263-86.

Human development: biological and genetic processes.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry and Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55454, USA. gotte003@umn.edu

Abstract

Adaptation is a central organizing principle throughout biology, whether we are studying species, populations, or individuals. Adaptation in biological systems occurs in response to molar and molecular environments. Thus, we would predict that genetic systems and nervous systems would be dynamic (cybernetic) in contrast to previous conceptualizations with genes and brains fixed in form and function. Questions of nature versus nurture are meaningless, and we must turn to epigenetics--the way in which biology and experience work together to enhance adaptation throughout thick and thin. Defining endophenotypes--road markers that bring us closer to the biological origins of the developmental journey--facilitates our understanding of adaptive or maladaptive processes. For human behavioral disorders such as schizophrenia and autism, the inherent plasticity of the nervous system requires a systems approach to incorporate all of the myriad epigenetic factors that can influence such outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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