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Homeorhesis: Envisaging the logic of life trajectories in molecular research on trauma and its effects

Lloyd, Stephanie and Larivée, Alexandre and Lutz, Pierre-Eric (2022) Homeorhesis: Envisaging the logic of life trajectories in molecular research on trauma and its effects. [Preprint]

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What sets someone on a life trajectory? This question is at the heart of studies of 21-st century neurosciences that build on scientific models developed over the last 150 years that attempt to link psychopathology risk and human development. Historically, this research has documented persistent effects of singular, negative life experiences of people’s subsequent development. More recently, studies have documented neuromolecular effects of early life adversity on subsequent life trajectories, resulting in models that frame lives as disproportionately affected by early negative experiences. This view is dominant despite little evidence of the stability of the presumably early developed molecular traits and their potential effects on phenotypes. We argue that in the context of gaps in knowledge and the need for scientists to reason across molecular and phenotypic scales, as well as time spans that can extend beyond an individual’s life, specific interpretative frameworks shape the ways in which individual scientific findings are assessed. In the process, scientific reasoning slides between understandings of cellular homeostasis and organisms’ homeorhesis, or life trajectory. Biologist and historian François Jacob described this framework as the “attitude” that researchers bring to bear on their “objects” of study. Through an analysis of, first, historical and contemporary scientific literature and then ethnographic research with neuroscientists, we consider how early life trauma came to be associated with specific psychological and neurobiological effects grounded in understandings of life trajectories. We conclude with a consideration of the conceptual, ontological, and ethical implications of interpreting life trajectories as the result of the persistence of long-embodied biological traits, persistent life environments, or both.

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Item Type: Preprint
Lloyd, Stephaniestephanie.lloyd@ant.ulaval.ca0000-0001-6099-376X
Larivée, Alexandrealexandre.larivee.1@ulaval.ca0000-0003-1325-5099
Lutz, Pierre-Ericpierreeric.lutz@gmail.com0000-0003-3383-1604
Keywords: neuroscience, plasticity, homeorhesis, behavioural epigenetics, early life adversity, trauma
Subjects: General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Depositing User: Dr Pierre-Eric Lutz
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2022 03:44
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2022 13:11
Item ID: 20998
Subjects: General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Date: 21 July 2022

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