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Evo-devo of human adolescence: beyond disease models of early puberty

  • Author(s): Hochberg, Ze'ev
  • Belsky, Jay
  • et al.
Abstract

Abstract Despite substantial heritability in pubertal development, much variation remains to be explained, leaving room for the influence of environmental factors to adjust its phenotypic trajectory in the service of fitness goals. Utilizing evolutionary development biology (evo-devo), we examine adolescence as an evolutionary life-history stage in its developmental context. We show that the transition from the preceding stage of juvenility entails adaptive plasticity in response to energy resources, other environmental cues, social needs of adolescence and maturation toward youth and adulthood. Using the evolutionary theory of socialization, we show that familial psychosocial stress fosters a fast life history and reproductive strategy rather than early maturation being just a risk factor for aggression and delinquency. Here we explore implications of an evolutionary-developmental-endocrinological-anthropological framework for theory building, while illuminating new directions for research.

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