Experience-induced transgenerational (re-)programming of neuronal structure and functions: Impact of stress prior and during pregnancy

Katharina Braun, Jörg Bock, Tamar Wainstock, Emmanuel Matas, Inna Gaisler-Salomon, Jörg Fegert, Ute Ziegenhain, Menahem Segal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This review focuses on the inter- and transgenerational effects of stress experience prior to and during gestation. We provide an overview of findings from studies in humans as well as in animal models on brain structural and physiological functions and on the development of cognitive and executive functions. We also discuss the concept of stress-induced (re-)programming in more detail by highlighting epigenetic mechanisms and particularly those affecting the development of monoaminergic transmitter systems, which constitute the braińs reward system. As the majority of studies have focused on male individuals we will emphasize sex-specific differences in stress vulnerability and resilience. Finally, we offer some perspectives on the development of protective and therapeutic interventions in cognitive and emotional disturbances resulting from pre-conception and prenatal stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-296
Number of pages16
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Dopamine
  • Epigenetics
  • Limbic
  • Neural development
  • Preconception stress
  • Prenatal stress
  • Psychopathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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