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The environment and schizophrenia

Nature volume 468, pages 203212 (11 November 2010) | Download Citation

Abstract

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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Acknowledgements

The authors thank P. R. Hof, C. Morgan and M. Wichers for comments on earlier versions of this paper. Supported by the Geestkracht program of the Dutch Health Research Council (ZON-MW, grant number 10-000-1002), and the European Community's Seventh Framework Program under grant agreement No. HEALTH-F2-2009-241909 (Project EU-GEI).

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

    • Jim van Os
    • , Gunter Kenis
    •  & Bart P. F. Rutten
  2. King’s College London, King’s Health Partners, Department of Psychosis Studies, Institute of Psychiatry, London SE5 8AF, UK

    • Jim van Os

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Correspondence to Jim van Os.

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