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Nature. 2010 Nov 11;468(7321):203-12. doi: 10.1038/nature09563.

The environment and schizophrenia.

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European Graduate School for Neuroscience, SEARCH, Maastricht University Medical Centre, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands.


Psychotic syndromes can be understood as disorders of adaptation to social context. Although heritability is often emphasized, onset is associated with environmental factors such as early life adversity, growing up in an urban environment, minority group position and cannabis use, suggesting that exposure may have an impact on the developing 'social' brain during sensitive periods. Therefore heritability, as an index of genetic influence, may be of limited explanatory power unless viewed in the context of interaction with social effects. Longitudinal research is needed to uncover gene-environment interplay that determines how expression of vulnerability in the general population may give rise to more severe psychopathology.

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