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Environmental Enrichment as a Positive Behavioral Intervention Across the Lifespan

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Background: In recent decades, the interest in behavioral interventions has been growing due to the higher prevalence of age-related cognitive impairments. Hence, behavioral interventions, such as cognitive stimulation and physical activity, and along with these, our lifestyle (education level, work position, frequency of cognitive and social activities) have shown important benefits during the cognitive impairment, dementia and even recovery after brain injury. This is due to the fact that this type of intervention and activities promote the formation of a cognitive and brain reserve that allows tolerating brain damage during a long period of time without the appearance of cognitive symptoms. With regard to this, animal models have proved very useful in providing information about the brain mechanisms involved in the development of these cognitive and brain reserves and how they interact with each other.

Methods: We summarize several studies showing the positive effects of Environmental Enrichment (EE), understood as a housing condition in which animals benefit from the sensory, physical, cognitive and social stimulation provided, on brain and cognitive functions usually impaired during aging.

Results: Most of studies have shown that EE is a successful protocol to improve cognitive functions and reduce anxiety-related behaviors across the lifespan, as well as in animal models of neurodegenerative diseases.

Conclusion: Therefore, EE is a laboratory condition in which some aspects of an active lifestyle are reproduced.
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Keywords: Aging; animal model; environmental enrichment; experience-dependent plasticity; neurodegenerative diseases

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2017

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  • Current Neuropharmacology aims to provide current, timely and comprehensive reviews of all areas of neuropharmacology and related matters of neuroscience. The journal publishes reviews written by experts and leaders in the fields of molecular, cellular, and systems/behavioural aspects of neuropharmacology and neuroscience. The journal serves as a comprehensive, multidisciplinary expert forum for neuropharmacologists and neuroscientists.
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