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The purpose of the review article written by Lee,
Yamaguchi, and Goto in 2015 is to offer an explanation for the prevalence of
psychiatric disorders despite the lower fecundity of people diagnosed with psychological
disorders with respect to the general population.  They propose that the development of psychiatric
disorders in individuals might be evolutionarily favored in cases of prenatal
stress.  The authors begin by examining
how certain diseases can be thought of as originating from a discrepancy
between prenatal and postnatal conditions. 
That is, the prenatal environment could elicit changes in the offspring
that later affect its postnatal health and behavior.  This idea is termed the Barker
hypothesis.  The authors propose that
this hypothesis could also apply to neurodevelopmental disorders such as
schizophrenia and autism.  Since these
disorders are associated with abnormalities in synaptic connections, the article
examines the effect of prenatal and postnatal environmental discrepancies on
neuronal development.  The authors review
a study completed by Leuba and Rabinowicz in 1979 regarding the development of
dendritic spines in the neurons of mice. 
Leuba and Rabinowicz observed that underfed mice usually showed lower
numbers of dendritic spines than mice provided a normal diet during
development.  This relationship was
observed unless the underfed mice also experienced prenatal conditions in which
nutrients were not abundant.  These mice,
if raised in a postnatal environment that was again low in nutrients, showed
numbers of dendritic spines comparable to mice that were provided a normal

the review article, the authors propose two different results that could occur from
a discrepancy between predicted and actual postnatal conditions: adaptive and
preparatory plasticity changes.  In what
the authors termed as an “adaptive plasticity change,” prenatal conditions
triggered adaptive changes during the development of the offspring that
resulted in modified postnatal behavior. 
Examples of neurodevelopmental disorders which the authors claim might
result from an “adaptive plasticity change” are autism and attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder, which develop early in childhood and involve behavioral
changes that could be considered maladaptive or advantageous depending on the
offspring’s postnatal environment.  If
the postnatal environment predicted during development matched the actual
postnatal environment experienced by the offspring, the authors suggest that
the behavioral changes observed in these neurodevelopmental disorders would be
considered beneficial, improving the offspring’s chances of survival.  In what the authors termed as a “preparatory
plasticity change,” prenatal conditions triggered changes in the development of
the offspring that worked to change postnatal behavior so that the offspring would
be prepared for the expected postnatal environment.  The authors used the example
neurodevelopmental disorder of schizophrenia, which develops in early adulthood,
to explain how behavioral changes associated with the disorder could be
considered as merely the result of environmental expectations not meeting

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In evaluating how genetic factors play a role in
psychiatric disorders, the authors examine the possibility that prenatal
changes induced by stress in the parent could be passed on to his or her
offspring.  The authors propose that
these inherited epigenetic factors, when coupled with mutations or genetic
changes perhaps triggered by the environment, could result in the exhibition of
abnormal behavior.  The authors mention
the work of Crespi, Stead, and Elliot in 2010 which suggested that both
schizophrenia and autism present genetic mistakes that are almost mirror images
of each other, as if the disorders were on opposite ends of a spectrum.  The current review article concludes by
stating that neurodevelopmental disorders could be thought of as existing on a
spectrum, with contrasting psychiatric disorders at each end and behaviors
considered normal in the present environment located in the middle of the
spectrum.  From an evolutionary
perspective, the development of individuals with psychiatric disorders could
then be seen as an advantage which improves the survival of the species as a whole
by improving its diversity.

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