Seminar Series

How Genes and Environment Shape the Adolescent Brain

At all levels – our brains are the product of multiple genes, various environmental influences and, of course, the interplay between genes and the environment. This is true about any trait captured in vivo with magnetic resonance imaging, from the overall brain size to its various functional and structural properties. In our work, we have focused on influences shaping the adolescent brain. We use a population neuroscience approach, an intersection of epidemiology, genetics and cognitive neuroscience1. We have applied this approach in a number of studies, including the Saguenay Youth Study2, IMAGEN3, ALSPAC4 and the NFBC19865. In my presentation, I will illustrate this work in the context of various influences acting on the human brain at different stages of its development, from prenatal (smoking during pregnancy) and early post-natal (childhood adversity) periods to adolescence (sex hormones, cannabis use).