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The Role of the Social Environment on Adaptive Neuroplasticity in Early Development

Call for Papers

The general frame of this issue is early brain plasticity and its capacity to adapt to typical and atypical developmental conditions. Identifying the risk factors for atypical neurodevelopment and the role of specific sensorimotor and social experiences provides an opportunity to study the potentials of brain plasticity with human and animal models.

This issue will explore scientific evidence of cerebral plasticity in relation to social interaction with the environment during early development, namely, the first 3 years of life.

The focus of the issue will be on the active role of social interactions (e.g., caregiver-infant dyad) on developmental trajectories or outcomes. However, evidence and reviews of the related adaptive neuroplasticity mechanisms will also be an important part of the issue. Therefore, the studies’ parameters may include behavioural, electrophysiological, neuroimaging, or biochemistry outcomes.

Potential topics include but are not limited to the following:

  • Early parent-infant interaction and its influence on neuroplasticity, in particular, studies on the effects of maternal mirroring on infant social behaviors for both human and nonhuman primates within an evolutionary perspective
  • Neuroplastic mechanisms of social development: how early social skills develop in infants and how early perturbations of early mother-infant communication might change social developmental trajectories
  • Epigenetic regulation of intersubjectivity: there is an increased interest in the effects of early social experience on epigenetic expressions. While the work on early stressors on social development was described in rodents’ models, less is known on human and nonhuman primates, which will be addressed in this special issue
  • Effects of early experience and adversity on brain development, for example, in infants with malformations (e.g., cleft-lip) or institutionalized children: how early difficulties or disruption of parent-infant communication impact brain development; how the severity of social deprivation might have long-term effects
  • Animal models of infant brain development and interaction: nonhuman models of brain development with special emphasis on the interaction between gene and environment
  • Neurorehabilitation through dyadic relationship interventions, for example, book sharing intervention and cognitive development in children or action observation therapy in cerebral palsy children
  • Cultural diversity in human rearing and early development

Authors can submit their manuscripts through the Manuscript Tracking System at

Submission DeadlineFriday, 17 August 2018
Publication DateJanuary 2019

Papers are published upon acceptance, regardless of the Special Issue publication date.

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