Advances in molecular biology, neuroimaging, genetic epidemiology, and developmental psychopathology have provided a unique opportunity to explore the interplay of genes, brain, and behavior within a translational research framework. Herein, we begin by outlining an experimental strategy by which genetic effects on brain function can be explored using neuroimaging, namely, imaging genetics. We next describe some major findings in imaging genetics to highlight the effectiveness of this strategy for delineating biological pathways and mechanisms by which individual differences in brain function emerge and potentially bias behavior and risk for psychiatric illness. We then discuss the importance of applying imaging genetics to the study of psychopathology within a developmental framework. By beginning to move toward a systems-level approach to understanding pathways to behavioral outcomes as they are expressed across development, it is anticipated that we will move closer to understanding the complexities of the specific mechanisms involved in the etiology of psychiatric disease. Despite the numerous challenges that lie ahead, we believe that developmental imaging genetics has potential to yield highly informative results that will ultimately translate into public health benefits. We attempt to set out guidelines and provide exemplars that may help in designing fruitful translational research applications that incorporate a developmental imaging genetics strategy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health