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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 291476, 9 pages
Review Article

Neurodevelopmental Plasticity in Pre- and Postnatal Environmental Interactions: Implications for Psychiatric Disorders from an Evolutionary Perspective

1Department of Food Science & Nutrition, Catholic University of Daegu, Gyeongsan-si, Gyeongbuk 712-702, Republic of Korea
2Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, Inuyama, Aichi 484-8506, Japan

Received 23 December 2014; Revised 29 March 2015; Accepted 15 April 2015

Academic Editor: Long-Jun Wu

Copyright © 2015 Young-A Lee et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Psychiatric disorders are disadvantageous behavioral phenotypes in humans. Accordingly, a recent epidemiological study has reported decreased fecundity in patients with psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders. Moreover, the fecundity of the relatives of these patients is not exceedingly higher compared to the fecundity of the relatives of normal subjects. Collectively, the prevalence of psychiatric disorders among humans is expected to decrease over generations. Nevertheless, in reality, the prevalence rates of psychiatric disorders in humans either have been constant over a long period of time or have even increased more recently. Several attempts to explain this fact have been made using biological mechanisms, such as de novo gene mutations or variants, although none of these explanations is fully comprehensive. Here, we propose a hypothesis towards understanding the biological mechanisms of psychiatric disorders from evolutionary perspectives. This hypothesis considers that behavioral phenotypes associated with psychiatric disorders might have emerged in the evolution of organisms as a neurodevelopmental adaptation against adverse environmental conditions associated with stress.