. "5 Perspectives from Developmental Neuroscience." Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2009.
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Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities
and bias and could potentially have negative effects on employment and the ability to obtain adequate health, life, and disability insurance (Institute of Medicine, 2006a). To address these concerns, a broad array of social, ethical, and legal factors should ultimately contribute to decisions about how research findings are applied and how tests to gather information about individual risk are implemented. Such decisions need to incorporate a research-informed, evidence-based understanding of how practitioners, policy makers, and the public will interpret the information and how systems and individuals will make use of the information. These concerns are also important in considering how to use individually identified psychological, social, and other environmental risk factors to screen for the risk of developing MEB disorders (see also Chapter 8).
Relationship to Prevention Research
Defining the neural substrates of healthy cognitive, behavioral, and emotional development and, in particular, understanding the plasticity of such substrates in the face of environmental interventions can provide an important basis for prevention research and for identifying many promising avenues for future study.
Rich theories of the pathogenesis of MEB disorders in young people can be developed using animal models and other methods of basic science research, as well as neurobiological studies in humans. Accordingly, theories derived from developmental neuroscience should have a prominent role in informing the design of such interventions. Research that further identifies how environmental factors affect basic neurodevelopmental processes, such as neuronal migration, synaptogenesis, synaptic pruning, and myelination, may reveal potential new targets for preventive interventions. These targets might range from more specific reduction of exposures to potential pharmacological approaches that can enhance neurobiological processes or attenuate some of the deleterious effects of adverse environmental exposures. Similarly, a greater understanding of the functional activity in neural systems that subserve emotion and behavior might aid in developing improved cognitive training strategies that can protect against the development of disorder by enhancing regulatory or compensatory systems capable of reducing the risk for psychopathology.
Strategies to alter the genome are not a near-term prospect. However, identifying genetic variants that are associated with disorders and understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms may lead to prevention strategies based on correcting molecular disturbances in the pathways that lead from genes to behavior, including the molecular pathways that underlie the effects of known risk factors for disorders. Identifying gene–environment interactions can also suggest ways of correcting pathogenic