Differential neuronal plasticity in mouse hippocampus associated with various periods of enriched environment during postnatal development

Brain Structure & Function
Salma HosseinyAlice Guyon


Enriched environment (EE) is characterized by improved conditions for enhanced exploration, cognitive activity, social interaction and physical exercise. It has been shown that EE positively regulates the remodeling of neural circuits, memory consolidation, long-term changes in synaptic strength and neurogenesis. However, the fine mechanisms by which environment shapes the brain at different postnatal developmental stages and the duration required to induce such changes are still a matter of debate. In EE, large groups of mice were housed in bigger cages and were given toys, nesting materials and other equipment that promote physical activity to provide a stimulating environment. Weaned mice were housed in EE for 4, 6 or 8 weeks and compared with matched control mice that were raised in a standard environment. To investigate the differential effects of EE on immature and mature brains, we also housed young adult mice (8 weeks old) for 4 weeks in EE. We studied the influence of onset and duration of EE housing on the structure and function of hippocampal neurons. We found that: (1) EE enhances neurogenesis in juvenile, but not young adult mice; (2) EE increases the number of synaptic contacts at every stage; (3) long-term potent...Continue Reading


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