Temperament, synaptic plasticity and adaptive capacity: influence of stress during adolescence (Stress during adolescence)


This CRP will focus on adolescence as an important developmental period modulating the adult vulnerability to depression in an interdisciplinary approach in humans and animal models. First, we will analyze how stress during adolescence might modulate a (genetic) predisposition for depression at adulthood. Second, the hypothesis will be tested that individual variation in behavioral flexibility and the underlying mechanisms of neuronal plasticity are fundamental in the adult vulnerability to depression.

It is well recognized that only a small proportion of individuals (humans and animals) develop depression after stressful life events or under conditions of chronic mild stress. This indicates that the vulnerability to depression depends on the individual capacity to cope with environmental stressors. Animal experiments show that the adult differentiation in coping style and adaptive capacity has a strong genetic basis, but can also be modulated by environmental conditions during development. Most animal studies have concentrated on the role of stress in the perinatal period on the adult vulnerability to depression. Although the adolescent period is generally considered to be a very important developmental period, little is known to what extent stressful experiences during this period might shape adult coping style and adaptive capacity.

Therefore, this program will concentrate on the adolescent period as a sensitive developmental period determining the adult capacity to cope with environmental stressors and hence the vulnerability to develop depression.

Project Leader

Professor Japp Koolhaas
Faculty of Mathematics and natural Sciences University Groningen Haren, Netherlands

Principal Investigators

Professor Johannes Ormel
University Medical Center University Groningen, Netherlands

Dr. Thierry Steimer
University Hospital University of Geneva, Switzerland  

Professor Clive Bramham
Building for Biological Basic Science University of Bergen, Norway