Do genes impact a person’s vulnerability to Adverse Childhood Experiences?

The ability to control emotional states and behaviour is refered to as Executive Functions. EF’s are also linked to the ability to process information which are required for learning and memory. Impairment in the executive function such as focused attention, cognitive flexibility and self-regulation are implicated in a number of psychopathologies across a lifetime.

Some of the different types of psychopathology include, but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Bipolar disorders.
  • Depressive disorders.
  • Disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorders.
  • Dissociative disorders.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Neurocognitive disorders.
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders.

According to the ‘Single nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP. If you are reading a news story where it says, for example, scientists find the genetic contributors to diabetes or some other condition or trait, you’re probably reading about SNPS. A SNP is a one-letter place where your genome varies from another genome sequence. Thanks to the Human Genome Project, we have found that these single letter changes in our genetic code are placed all across our genomes. We can see that the patterns vary between people and even between populations. If we want to identify genetic contributors to a common complex disease like diabetes, we can group together thousands of people who have diabetes and compare their SNP patterns to thousands of people who do not have diabetes. With enough people in our study, we can use the SNPs as markers to see that certain areas of the genome appear to be the same in people who have diabetes, and that tells us where we should look in more detail for a genetic cause.

Gene co-expression networks in specific tissues/brain regions, which infer precise biological functions, have also demonstrated significant interaction results with early life adversity, especially for biological functions within the Pre Frontal Cortex. The integration of these advanced genomic analyses together with existing knowledge from the biological sciences, including neuroscience, is important for the identification of SNPs/genes that interact with early adversity to delay Executive Functions development, which may have long-lasting effects. Early identification of at-risk children for impaired social and academic competence and later development psychopathologies will allow the implementation of preventive policies and early interventional programs, consequently reducing the costs of the health care system.