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Psychotherapy and Genetic Neuroscience: An Emerging Dialog.

Psychotherapy and Genetic Neuroscience: An Emerging Dialog.

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Psychotherapy and Genetic Neuroscience: An Emerging Dialog.

Front Genet. 2018;9:257

Authors: Jiménez JP, Botto A, Herrera L, Leighton C, Rossi JL, Quevedo Y, Silva JR, Martínez F, Assar R, Salazar LA, Ortiz M, Ríos U, Barros P, Jaramillo K, Luyten P

Recent research in psychiatric genetics has led to a move away from simple diathesis-stress models to more complex models of psychopathology incorporating a focus on gene-environment interactions and epigenetics. Our increased understanding of the way biology encodes the impact of life events on organisms has also generated more sophisticated theoretical models concerning the molecular processes at the interface between "nature" and "nurture." There is also increasing consensus that psychotherapy entails a specific type of learning in the context of an emotional relationship (i.e., the therapeutic relationship) that may also lead to epigenetic modifications across different therapeutic treatment modalities. This paper provides a systematic review of this emerging body of research. It is concluded that, although the evidence is still limited at this stage, extant research does indeed suggest that psychotherapy may be associated with epigenetic changes. Furthermore, it is argued that epigenetic studies may play a key role in the identification of biomarkers implicated in vulnerability for psychopathology, and thus may improve diagnosis and open up future research opportunities regarding the mechanism of action of psychotropic drugs as well as psychotherapy. We review evidence suggesting there may be important individual differences in susceptibility to environmental input, including psychotherapy. In addition, given that there is increasing evidence for the transgenerational transmission of epigenetic modifications in animals and humans exposed to trauma and adversity, epigenetic changes produced by psychotherapy may also potentially be passed on to the next generation, which opens up new perspective for prevention science. We conclude this paper stressing the limitations of current research and by proposing a set of recommendations for future research in this area.

PMID: 30065751 [PubMed]

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