The developing human brain is shaped by environmental exposures—for better or worse. Many exposures relevant to mental health are genuinely social in nature or believed to have social subcomponents, even those related to more complex societal or area-level influences. The nature of how these social experiences are embedded into the environment may be crucial. Here we review select neuroscience evidence on the neural correlates of adverse and protective social exposures in their environmental context, focusing on human neuroimaging data and supporting cellular and molecular studies in laboratory animals. We also propose the inclusion of innovative methods in social neuroscience research that may provide new and ecologically more valid insight into the social-environmental risk architecture of the human brain.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution
Subscribe to this journal
Receive 12 print issues and online access
$209.00 per year
only $17.42 per issue
Rent or buy this article
Prices vary by article type
Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout
Similar content being viewed by others
Meyer-Lindenberg, A. & Tost, H. Neural mechanisms of social risk for psychiatric disorders. Nat. Neurosci. 15, 663–668 (2012).
Tost, H. & Meyer-Lindenberg, A. Puzzling over schizophrenia: schizophrenia, social environment and the brain. Nat. Med. 18, 211–213 (2012).
Russo, S.J., Murrough, J.W., Han, M.H., Charney, D.S. & Nestler, E.J. Neurobiology of resilience. Nat. Neurosci. 15, 1475–1484 (2012).
Zammit, S. et al. Individuals, schools, and neighborhood: a multilevel longitudinal study of variation in incidence of psychotic disorders. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 67, 914–922 (2010).
Swain, J.E., Perkins, S.C., Dayton, C.J., Finegood, E.D. & Ho, S.S. Parental brain and socioeconomic epigenetic effects in human development. Behav. Brain Sci. 35, 378–379 (2012).
Herman, J.P. & Cullinan, W.E. Neurocircuitry of stress: central control of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical axis. Trends Neurosci. 20, 78–84 (1997).
Flinn, M.V., Nepomnaschy, P.A., Muehlenbein, M.P. & Ponzi, D. Evolutionary functions of early social modulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis development in humans. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. 35, 1611–1629 (2011).
McEwen, B.S. The brain on stress: toward an integrative approach to brain, body, and behavior. Perspect. Psychol. Sci. 8, 673–675 (2013).
Champagne, F.A. Early environments, glucocorticoid receptors, and behavioral epigenetics. Behav. Neurosci. 127, 628–636 (2013).
Carpenter, L.L., Shattuck, T.T., Tyrka, A.R., Geracioti, T.D. & Price, L.H. Effect of childhood physical abuse on cortisol stress response. Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 214, 367–375 (2011).
Calhoun, C.D. et al. Relational victimization, friendship, and adolescents' hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis responses to an in vivo social stressor. Dev. Psychopathol. 26, 605–618 (2014).
Steinheuser, V., Ackermann, K., Schonfeld, P. & Schwabe, L. Stress and the city: impact of urban upbringing on the (re)activity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. Psychosom. Med. 76, 678–685 (2014).
Gatzke-Kopp, L.M. The canary in the coalmine: the sensitivity of mesolimbic dopamine to environmental adversity during development. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. 35, 794–803 (2011).
Alcaro, A., Huber, R. & Panksepp, J. Behavioral functions of the mesolimbic dopaminergic system: an affective neuroethological perspective. Brain Res. Rev. 56, 283–321 (2007).
Zoli, M. et al. Nerve cell clusters in dorsal striatum and nucleus accumbens of the male rat demonstrated by glucocorticoid receptor immunoreactivity. J. Chem. Neuroanat. 3, 355–366 (1990).
Barik, J. et al. Chronic stress triggers social aversion via glucocorticoid receptor in dopaminoceptive neurons. Science 339, 332–335 (2013).
Niwa, M. et al. Adolescent stress-induced epigenetic control of dopaminergic neurons via glucocorticoids. Science 339, 335–339 (2013).
Meyer-Lindenberg, A., Domes, G., Kirsch, P. & Heinrichs, M. Oxytocin and vasopressin in the human brain: social neuropeptides for translational medicine. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 12, 524–538 (2011).
Freeman, S.M., Inoue, K., Smith, A.L., Goodman, M.M. & Young, L.J. The neuroanatomical distribution of oxytocin receptor binding and mRNA in the male rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta). Psychoneuroendocrinology 45, 128–141 (2014).
Ross, H.E. & Young, L.J. Oxytocin and the neural mechanisms regulating social cognition and affiliative behavior. Front. Neuroendocrinol. 30, 534–547 (2009).
Feldman, R., Weller, A., Zagoory-Sharon, O. & Levine, A. Evidence for a neuroendocrinological foundation of human affiliation: plasma oxytocin levels across pregnancy and the postpartum period predict mother-infant bonding. Psychol. Sci. 18, 965–970 (2007).
Smith, A.S. & Wang, Z. Salubrious effects of oxytocin on social stress-induced deficits. Horm. Behav. 61, 320–330 (2012).
Cardoso, C., Kingdon, D. & Ellenbogen, M.A. A meta-analytic review of the impact of intranasal oxytocin administration on cortisol concentrations during laboratory tasks: moderation by method and mental health. Psychoneuroendocrinology 49, 161–170 (2014).
Stoop, R., Hegoburu, C. & van den Burg, E. New opportunities in vasopressin and oxytocin research: a perspective from the amygdala. Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 38, 369–388 (2015).
Champagne, F., Diorio, J., Sharma, S. & Meaney, M.J. Naturally occurring variations in maternal behavior in the rat are associated with differences in estrogen-inducible central oxytocin receptors. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 98, 12736–12741 (2001).
Peña, C.J., Neugut, Y.D. & Champagne, F.A. Developmental timing of the effects of maternal care on gene expression and epigenetic regulation of hormone receptor levels in female rats. Endocrinology 154, 4340–4351 (2013).
Wang, H., Duclot, F., Liu, Y., Wang, Z. & Kabbaj, M. Histone deacetylase inhibitors facilitate partner preference formation in female prairie voles. Nat. Neurosci. 16, 919–924 (2013).
Keebaugh, A.C. & Young, L.J. Increasing oxytocin receptor expression in the nucleus accumbens of pre-pubertal female prairie voles enhances alloparental responsiveness and partner preference formation as adults. Horm. Behav. 60, 498–504 (2011).
Peña, C.J., Neugut, Y.D., Calarco, C.A. & Champagne, F.A. Effects of maternal care on the development of midbrain dopamine pathways and reward-directed behavior in female offspring. Eur. J. Neurosci. 39, 946–956 (2014).
Liu, Y. & Wang, Z.X. Nucleus accumbens oxytocin and dopamine interact to regulate pair bond formation in female prairie voles. Neuroscience 121, 537–544 (2003).
Riem, M.M., Alink, L.R., Out, D., Van Ijzendoorn, M.H. & Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J. Beating the brain about abuse: empirical and meta-analytic studies of the association between maltreatment and hippocampal volume across childhood and adolescence. Dev. Psychopathol. 27, 507–520 (2015).
Shonkoff, J.P. Leveraging the biology of adversity to address the roots of disparities in health and development. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 109 (suppl. 2): 17302–17307 (2012).
Murgatroyd, C. et al. Dynamic DNA methylation programs persistent adverse effects of early-life stress. Nat. Neurosci. 12, 1559–1566 (2009).
Rice, C.J., Sandman, C.A., Lenjavi, M.R. & Baram, T.Z. A novel mouse model for acute and long-lasting consequences of early life stress. Endocrinology 149, 4892–4900 (2008).
Wang, X.D. et al. Forebrain CRF(1) modulates early-life stress-programmed cognitive deficits. J. Neurosci. 31, 13625–13634 (2011).
Roth, T.L., Lubin, F.D., Funk, A.J. & Sweatt, J.D. Lasting epigenetic influence of early-life adversity on the BDNF gene. Biol. Psychiatry 65, 760–769 (2009).
Liu, D., Diorio, J., Day, J.C., Francis, D.D. & Meaney, M.J. Maternal care, hippocampal synaptogenesis and cognitive development in rats. Nat. Neurosci. 3, 799–806 (2000).
Liu, D. et al. Maternal care, hippocampal glucocorticoid receptors, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal responses to stress. Science 277, 1659–1662 (1997).
Weaver, I.C. et al. Epigenetic programming by maternal behavior. Nat. Neurosci. 7, 847–854 (2004).
Cao, Y. et al. Neonatal paternal deprivation impairs social recognition and alters levels of oxytocin and estrogen receptor alpha mRNA expression in the MeA and NAcc, and serum oxytocin in mandarin voles. Horm. Behav. 65, 57–65 (2014).
Seidel, K., Poeggel, G., Holetschka, R., Helmeke, C. & Braun, K. Paternal deprivation affects the development of corticotrophin-releasing factor-expressing neurones in prefrontal cortex, amygdala and hippocampus of the biparental Octodon degus. J. Neuroendocrinol. 23, 1166–1176 (2011).
Biggio, F. et al. Maternal separation attenuates the effect of adolescent social isolation on HPA axis responsiveness in adult rats. Eur. Neuropsychopharmacol. 24, 1152–1161 (2014).
Champagne, D.L. et al. Maternal care and hippocampal plasticity: evidence for experience-dependent structural plasticity, altered synaptic functioning, and differential responsiveness to glucocorticoids and stress. J. Neurosci. 28, 6037–6045 (2008).
Hart, H. & Rubia, K. Neuroimaging of child abuse: a critical review. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 6, 52 (2012).
McEwen, B.S. Stress, sex, and neural adaptation to a changing environment: mechanisms of neuronal remodeling. Ann. NY Acad. Sci. 1204 (suppl.), E38–E59 (2010).
Woon, F.L. & Hedges, D.W. Hippocampal and amygdala volumes in children and adults with childhood maltreatment-related posttraumatic stress disorder: a meta-analysis. Hippocampus 18, 729–736 (2008).
Andersen, S.L. & Teicher, M.H. Delayed effects of early stress on hippocampal development. Neuropsychopharmacology 29, 1988–1993 (2004).
Lim, L., Radua, J. & Rubia, K. Gray matter abnormalities in childhood maltreatment: a voxel-wise meta-analysis. Am. J. Psychiatry 171, 854–863 (2014).
Pechtel, P., Lyons-Ruth, K., Anderson, C.M. & Teicher, M.H. Sensitive periods of amygdala development: the role of maltreatment in preadolescence. Neuroimage 97, 236–244 (2014).
Herringa, R.J. et al. Childhood maltreatment is associated with altered fear circuitry and increased internalizing symptoms by late adolescence. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 110, 19119–19124 (2013).
Wan, M.W. et al. The neural basis of maternal bonding. PLoS ONE 9, e88436 (2014).
Krol, K.M., Rajhans, P., Missana, M. & Grossmann, T. Duration of exclusive breastfeeding is associated with differences in infants' brain responses to emotional body expressions. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 8, 459 (2014).
Deoni, S.C. et al. Breastfeeding and early white matter development: a cross-sectional study. Neuroimage 82, 77–86 (2013).
Helliwell, J.F. & Putnam, R.D. The social context of well-being. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 359, 1435–1446 (2004).
Dunbar, R.I. & Shultz, S. Evolution in the social brain. Science 317, 1344–1347 (2007).
House, J.S., Landis, K.R. & Umberson, D. Social relationships and health. Science 241, 540–545 (1988).
Seeman, T.E. & McEwen, B.S. Impact of social environment characteristics on neuroendocrine regulation. Psychosom. Med. 58, 459–471 (1996).
Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T.B. & Layton, J.B. Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLoS Med. 7, e1000316 (2010).
Kirschbaum, C., Klauer, T., Filipp, S.H. & Hellhammer, D.H. Sex-specific effects of social support on cortisol and subjective responses to acute psychological stress. Psychosom. Med. 57, 23–31 (1995).
Chen, F.S. et al. Common oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) polymorphism and social support interact to reduce stress in humans. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108, 19937–19942 (2011).
Creswell, K.G. et al. OXTR polymorphism predicts social relationships through its effects on social temperament. Soc. Cogn. Affect. Neurosci. 10, 869–876 (2015).
Tost, H. et al. A common allele in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) impacts prosocial temperament and human hypothalamic-limbic structure and function. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107, 13936–13941 (2010).
Kim, H.S. et al. Culture, distress, and oxytocin receptor polymorphism (OXTR) interact to influence emotional support seeking. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107, 15717–15721 (2010).
Tost, H. et al. Neurogenetic effects of OXTR rs2254298 in the extended limbic system of healthy Caucasian adults. Biol. Psychiatry 70, e37–e39; author reply e41–e32 (2011).
Olff, M. et al. The role of oxytocin in social bonding, stress regulation and mental health: an update on the moderating effects of context and interindividual differences. Psychoneuroendocrinology 38, 1883–1894 (2013).
Nagasawa, M. et al. Social evolution. Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and the coevolution of human-dog bonds. Science 348, 333–336 (2015).
Younger, J., Aron, A., Parke, S., Chatterjee, N. & Mackey, S. Viewing pictures of a romantic partner reduces experimental pain: involvement of neural reward systems. PLoS ONE 5, e13309 (2010).
Eisenberger, N.I. et al. Attachment figures activate a safety signal-related neural region and reduce pain experience. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108, 11721–11726 (2011).
Eisenberger, N.I. The pain of social disconnection: examining the shared neural underpinnings of physical and social pain. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 13, 421–434 (2012).
Eisenberger, N.I., Taylor, S.E., Gable, S.L., Hilmert, C.J. & Lieberman, M.D. Neural pathways link social support to attenuated neuroendocrine stress responses. Neuroimage 35, 1601–1612 (2007).
Kubota, J.T., Banaji, M.R. & Phelps, E.A. The neuroscience of race. Nat. Neurosci. 15, 940–948 (2012).
Cantor-Graae, E. The contribution of social factors to the development of schizophrenia: a review of recent findings. Can. J. Psychiatry 52, 277–286 (2007).
van Os, J., Kenis, G. & Rutten, B.P. The environment and schizophrenia. Nature 468, 203–212 (2010).
Cantor-Graae, E. & Selten, J.P. Schizophrenia and migration: a meta-analysis and review. Am. J. Psychiatry 162, 12–24 (2005).
Fearon, P. et al. Incidence of schizophrenia and other psychoses in ethnic minority groups: results from the MRC AESOP Study. Psychol. Med. 36, 1541–1550 (2006).
Kirkbride, J.B. et al. Psychoses, ethnicity and socio-economic status. Br. J. Psychiatry 193, 18–24 (2008).
Morgan, C., Charalambides, M., Hutchinson, G. & Murray, R.M. Migration, ethnicity, and psychosis: toward a sociodevelopmental model. Schizophr. Bull. 36, 655–664 (2010).
Akdeniz, C. et al. Neuroimaging evidence for a role of neural social stress processing in ethnic minority-associated environmental risk. JAMA Psychiatry 71, 672–680 (2014).
Diorio, D., Viau, V. & Meaney, M.J. The role of the medial prefrontal cortex (cingulate gyrus) in the regulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal responses to stress. J. Neurosci. 13, 3839–3847 (1993).
van Buuren, M., Vink, M., Rapcencu, A.E. & Kahn, R.S. Exaggerated brain activation during emotion processing in unaffected siblings of patients with schizophrenia. Biol. Psychiatry 70, 81–87 (2011).
Grimm, O. et al. Striatal response to reward anticipation: evidence for a systems-level intermediate phenotype for schizophrenia. JAMA Psychiatry 71, 531–539 (2014).
de Leeuw, M., Kahn, R.S. & Vink, M. Fronto-striatal dysfunction during reward processing in unaffected siblings of schizophrenia patients. Schizophr. Bull. 41, 94–103 (2015).
Francis, D.D., Diorio, J., Plotsky, P.M. & Meaney, M.J. Environmental enrichment reverses the effects of maternal separation on stress reactivity. J. Neurosci. 22, 7840–7843 (2002).
Restivo, L. et al. Enriched environment promotes behavioral and morphological recovery in a mouse model for the fragile X syndrome. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 102, 11557–11562 (2005).
Rampon, C. et al. Effects of environmental enrichment on gene expression in the brain. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 97, 12880–12884 (2000).
Champagne, F.A. & Meaney, M.J. Transgenerational effects of social environment on variations in maternal care and behavioral response to novelty. Behav. Neurosci. 121, 1353–1363 (2007).
Pournajafi-Nazarloo, H. et al. Effects of social isolation on mRNA expression for corticotrophin-releasing hormone receptors in prairie voles. Psychoneuroendocrinology 36, 780–789 (2011).
Whitaker, L.R., Degoulet, M. & Morikawa, H. Social deprivation enhances VTA synaptic plasticity and drug-induced contextual learning. Neuron 77, 335–345 (2013).
Panksepp, J., Burgdorf, J., Beinfeld, M.C., Kroes, R.A. & Moskal, J.R. Brain regional neuropeptide changes resulting from social defeat. Behav. Neurosci. 121, 1364–1371 (2007).
Covington, H.E. III et al. Antidepressant actions of histone deacetylase inhibitors. J. Neurosci. 29, 11451–11460 (2009).
Dye, C. Health and urban living. Science 319, 766–769 (2008).
Peen, J., Schoevers, R.A., Beekman, A.T. & Dekker, J. The current status of urban-rural differences in psychiatric disorders. Acta Psychiatr. Scand. 121, 84–93 (2010).
Kelly, B.D. et al. Schizophrenia and the city: a review of literature and prospective study of psychosis and urbanicity in Ireland. Schizophr. Res. 116, 75–89 (2010).
Pedersen, C.B. & Mortensen, P.B. Evidence of a dose-response relationship between urbanicity during upbringing and schizophrenia risk. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 58, 1039–1046 (2001).
Krabbendam, L. & van Os, J. Schizophrenia and urbanicity: a major environmental influence–conditional on genetic risk. Schizophr. Bull. 31, 795–799 (2005).
Meyer-Lindenberg, A. From maps to mechanisms through neuroimaging of schizophrenia. Nature 468, 194–202 (2010).
Bentall, R.P. & Fernyhough, C. Social predictors of psychotic experiences: specificity and psychological mechanisms. Schizophr. Bull. 34, 1012–1020 (2008).
Christmas, J.J. Psychological stresses of urban living: new direction for mental health services in the inner city. J. Natl. Med. Assoc. 65, 483–486, passim (1973).
Kennedy, D.P., Glascher, J., Tyszka, J.M. & Adolphs, R. Personal space regulation by the human amygdala. Nat. Neurosci. 12, 1226–1227 (2009).
Graziano, M.S. & Cooke, D.F. Parieto-frontal interactions, personal space, and defensive behavior. Neuropsychologia 44, 2621–2635 (2006).
Lederbogen, F. et al. City living and urban upbringing affect neural social stress processing in humans. Nature 474, 498–501 (2011).
Haddad, L. et al. Brain structure correlates of urban upbringing, an environmental risk factor for schizophrenia. Schizophr. Bull. 41, 115–122 (2015).
Radua, J. et al. Multimodal meta-analysis of structural and functional brain changes in first episode psychosis and the effects of antipsychotic medication. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. 36, 2325–2333 (2012).
Bale, T.L. & Epperson, C.N. What's seXXY about stress: sex differences across the lifespan. Nat. Neurosci. 8, pp–pp (2015).
Federal Statistical Office (Germany). Hintergrundtabelle zur Pressemitteilung vom 25.10.2013 Tabelle 0: Armutsgefährdungsschwelle in Deutschland. (Statistisches Bundesamt, Wiesbaden, 2013). https://www.destatis.de/EN/FactsFigures/SocietyState/IncomeConsumptionLivingConditions/LivingConditionsRiskPoverty/Tables/ArtRiskPoverty_HHTyp_SILC.html.
US Census Bureau. Current population survey: definitions and explanations. (US Census Bureau, 2004). https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/demo/p60-249.pdf.
Holz, N.E. et al. The long-term impact of early life poverty on orbitofrontal cortex volume in adulthood: results from a prospective study over 25 years. Neuropsychopharmacology 40, 996–1004 (2014).
Luby, J. et al. The effects of poverty on childhood brain development: the mediating effect of caregiving and stressful life events. JAMA Pediatr. 167, 1135–1142 (2013).
Shtasel-Gottlieb, Z., Palakshappa, D., Yang, F. & Goodman, E. The relationship between developmental assets and food security in adolescents from a low-income community. J. Adolesc. Health 56, 215–222 (2015).
Kim, P. et al. Effects of childhood poverty and chronic stress on emotion regulatory brain function in adulthood. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 110, 18442–18447 (2013).
Sripada, R.K., Swain, J.E., Evans, G.W., Welsh, R.C. & Liberzon, I. Childhood poverty and stress reactivity are associated with aberrant functional connectivity in default mode network. Neuropsychopharmacology 39, 2244–2251 (2014).
Calderón-Garcidueñas, L., Torres-Jardon, R., Kulesza, R.J., Park, S.B. & D'Angiulli, A. Air pollution and detrimental effects on children's brain. The need for a multidisciplinary approach to the issue complexity and challenges. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 8, 613 (2014).
Wilker, E.H. et al. Long-term exposure to fine particulate matter, residential proximity to major roads and measures of brain structure. Stroke 46, 1161–1166 (2015).
Peterson, B.S. et al. Effects of prenatal exposure to air pollutants (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) on the development of brain white matter, cognition, and behavior in later childhood. JAMA Psychiatry 72, 531–540 (2015).
Brun, E., Carriere, M. & Mabondzo, A. In vitro evidence of dysregulation of blood-brain barrier function after acute and repeated/long-term exposure to TiO2 nanoparticles. Biomaterials 33, 886–896 (2012).
Fonken, L.K. et al. Air pollution impairs cognition, provokes depressive-like behaviors and alters hippocampal cytokine expression and morphology. Mol.Psychiatry 16, 987–995, 973 (2011).
Levesque, S., Surace, M.J., McDonald, J. & Block, M.L. Air pollution and the brain: subchronic diesel exhaust exposure causes neuroinflammation and elevates early markers of neurodegenerative disease. J. Neuroinflammation 8, 105 (2011).
Frumkin, H. Beyond toxicity: human health and the natural environment. Am. J. Prev. Med. 20, 234–240 (2001).
Haluza, D., Schonbauer, R. & Cervinka, R. Green perspectives for public health: a narrative review on the physiological effects of experiencing outdoor nature. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 11, 5445–5461 (2014).
Maas, J., Verheij, R.A., Groenewegen, P.P., de Vries, S. & Spreeuwenberg, P. Green space, urbanity, and health: how strong is the relation? J. Epidemiol. Community Health 60, 587–592 (2006).
Bowler, D.E., Buyung-Ali, L.M., Knight, T.M. & Pullin, A.S. A systematic review of evidence for the added benefits to health of exposure to natural environments. BMC Public Health 10, 456 (2010).
Fuller, R.A., Irvine, K.N., Devine-Wright, P., Warren, P.H. & Gaston, K.J. Psychological benefits of greenspace increase with biodiversity. Biol. Lett. 3, 390–394 (2007).
Park, B.J., Tsunetsugu, Y., Kasetani, T., Kagawa, T. & Miyazaki, Y. The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan. Environ. Health Prev. Med. 15, 18–26 (2010).
Park, B.J. et al. Physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the atmosphere of the forest)–using salivary cortisol and cerebral activity as indicators. J. Physiol. Anthropol. 26, 123–128 (2007).
Caspi, A. & Moffitt, T.E. Gene-environment interactions in psychiatry: joining forces with neuroscience. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 7, 583–590 (2006).
Montague, P.R. et al. Hyperscanning: simultaneous fMRI during linked social interactions. Neuroimage 16, 1159–1164 (2002).
Bilek, E. et al. Information flow between interacting human brains: Identification, validation, and relationship to social expertise. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 112, 5207–5212 (2015).
Ebner-Priemer, U.W., Eid, M., Kleindienst, N., Stabenow, S. & Trull, T.J. Analytic strategies for understanding affective (in)stability and other dynamic processes in psychopathology. J. Abnorm. Psychol. 118, 195–202 (2009).
Ebner-Priemer, U.W., Koudela, S., Mutz, G. & Kanning, M. Interactive multimodal ambulatory monitoring to investigate the association between physical activity and affect. Front. Psychol. 3, 596 (2012).
Heller, A.S. et al. The neurodynamics of affect in the laboratory predicts persistence of real-world emotional responses. J. Neurosci. 35, 10503–10509 (2015).
Diamond, M.C., Krech, D. & Rosenzweig, M.R. The effects of an enriched environment on the histology of the rat cerebral cortex. J. Comp. Neurol. 123, 111–120 (1964).
Nithianantharajah, J. & Hannan, A.J. Enriched environments, experience-dependent plasticity and disorders of the nervous system. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 7, 697–709 (2006).
Faherty, C.J., Kerley, D. & Smeyne, R.J.A. Golgi-Cox morphological analysis of neuronal changes induced by environmental enrichment. Brain Res. Dev. Brain Res. 141, 55–61 (2003).
Turner, A.M. & Greenough, W.T. Differential rearing effects on rat visual cortex synapses. I. Synaptic and neuronal density and synapses per neuron. Brain Res. 329, 195–203 (1985).
Greenough, W.T., Volkmar, F.R. & Juraska, J.M. Effects of rearing complexity on dendritic branching in frontolateral and temporal cortex of the rat. Exp. Neurol. 41, 371–378 (1973).
Scholz, J., Allemang-Grand, R., Dazai, J. & Lerch, J.P. Environmental enrichment is associated with rapid volumetric brain changes in adult mice. Neuroimage 109, 190–198 (2015).
Würbel, H. Ideal homes? Housing effects on rodent brain and behaviour. Trends Neurosci. 24, 207–211 (2001).
Beck, K.D. & Luine, V.N. Sex differences in behavioral and neurochemical profiles after chronic stress: role of housing conditions. Physiol. Behav. 75, 661–673 (2002).
Simpson, J. & Kelly, J.P. The impact of environmental enrichment in laboratory rats–behavioural and neurochemical aspects. Behav. Brain Res. 222, 246–264 (2011).
Weissbrod, A. et al. Automated long-term tracking and social behavioural phenotyping of animal colonies within a semi-natural environment. Nat. Commun. 4, 2018 (2013).
Akdeniz, C., Tost, H. & Meyer-Lindenberg, A. The neurobiology of social environmental risk for schizophrenia: an evolving research field. Soc. Psychiatry Psychiatr. Epidemiol. 49, 507–517 (2014).
The authors thank E. Bilek, T. Törnros and M. Reichert for help with the figures and U. Reininghaus for epidemiological input. H.T. gratefully acknowledges grant support by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, BMBF (01GQ1102). A.M.-L. acknowledges funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme under the grant agreements HEALTH-F2-2010-241909 (EU-GEI), 115300 (EU-AIMS) and 602805 (EU-Aggressotype).
A.M.-L. has received consultant fees and travel expenses from Alexza Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Defined Health, Decision Resources, Desitin Arzneimittel, Elsevier, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Gerson Lehrman Group, Grupo Ferrer, Les Laboratoires Servier, Lilly Deutschland, Lundbeck Foundation, Outcome Sciences, Outcome Europe, PriceSpective and Roche Pharma and has received speaker's fees from Abbott, AstraZeneca, BASF, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen-Cilag, Lundbeck, Pfizer Pharma and Servier Deutschland.
About this article
Cite this article
Tost, H., Champagne, F. & Meyer-Lindenberg, A. Environmental influence in the brain, human welfare and mental health. Nat Neurosci 18, 1421–1431 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.4108
This article is cited by
The future German Center for Mental Health (Deutsches Zentrum für Psychische Gesundheit): a model for the co-creation of a national translational research structure
Nature Mental Health (2023)
Der Nervenarzt (2023)
Der Nervenarzt (2023)
Short-term exposure to temperature and mental health in North Carolina: a distributed lag nonlinear analysis
International Journal of Biometeorology (2023)
Current Psychology (2023)