A translational neuroscience framework for the development of socioemotional functioning in health and psychopathology

The development of socioemotional functioning is a complex process that occurs over a protracted time period and requires coordinating affective, cognitive, and social faculties. At many points in development, the trajectory of socioemotional development can be deleteriously altered due to a combination of environmental insults and individual vulnerabilities. The result can be psychopathology. However, researchers are just beginning to understand the neural and genetic mechanisms involved in the development of healthy and disordered socioemotional functioning. We propose a translational developmental neuroscience framework to understand the transactional process that results in socioemotional functioning in both healthy and disordered populations. We then apply this framework to healthy socioemotional development, pediatric anxiety, pediatric depression, and autism spectrum disorder, selectively reviewing current literature in light of the framework. Finally, we examine ways that the framework can help to frame future directions of research on socioemotional development and translational implications for intervention.