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Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2016 Jun;19:233-47. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2016.04.005. Epub 2016 Apr 29.

Effects of early life stress on amygdala and striatal development.

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Gordon F. Derner Institute for Advanced Psychological Studies, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY 11530, United States. Electronic address:
Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, United States.


Species-expected caregiving early in life is critical for the normative development and regulation of emotional behavior, the ability to effectively evaluate affective stimuli in the environment, and the ability to sustain social relationships. Severe psychosocial stressors early in life (early life stress; ELS) in the form of the absence of species expected caregiving (i.e., caregiver deprivation), can drastically impact one's social and emotional success, leading to the onset of internalizing illness later in life. Development of the amygdala and striatum, two key regions supporting affective valuation and learning, is significantly affected by ELS, and their altered developmental trajectories have important implications for cognitive, behavioral and socioemotional development. However, an understanding of the impact of ELS on the development of functional interactions between these regions and subsequent behavioral effects is lacking. In this review, we highlight the roles of the amygdala and striatum in affective valuation and learning in maturity and across development. We discuss their function separately as well as their interaction. We highlight evidence across species characterizing how ELS induced changes in the development of the amygdala and striatum mediate subsequent behavioral changes associated with internalizing illness, positing a particular import of the effect of ELS on their interaction.


Affective valuation; Amygdala; Early life stress; Learning; Striatum

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