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Recent advances in behavioural phenotypes as they affect adults

Gregory O'Brien (Emeritus Professor of Developmental Psychiatry at Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Ruth Bevan (Specialist Trainee in Learning Disability Psychiatry Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, Morpeth, UK)

Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities

ISSN: 2044-1282

Article publication date: 15 July 2011




This paper seeks to discuss the complexity of the relationship between genotype and phenotype and highlight the importance of a greater understanding of behavioural phenotypes in genetic syndromes. The aim is to explore the developmental trajectory of the behavioural phenotypes as individuals emerge from childhood into adulthood and beyond.


Information was gathered from a search of the relevant literature over the past 20 years using Medline and PsycINFO databases in May 2010 as well as information published in textbooks on this matter.


The outcomes were considered under five areas of functioning: cognition, communication, behaviour, social functioning and propensity to psychiatric illnesses. The research thus far suggests that outcomes in behavioural phenotypes in adults are extremely variable. Individual predictions are difficult to make. However, some trends do emerge.


Findings of particular interest are the rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum conditions and how these change over the developmental trajectory. The paper highlights the need for further research in this area and discusses the need to view behavioural phenotypes as a continuum across the lifespan.



O'Brien, G. and Bevan, R. (2011), "Recent advances in behavioural phenotypes as they affect adults", Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 5-14.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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