Environmental enrichment during development produces a host of neurobehavioral effects in preclinical models. Early work demonstrated that enrichment enhances learning of a variety of behavioral tasks in rats and these changes are associated with neural changes in various cortical regions. In addition to promoting superior learning, more recent evidence suggests that environmental enrichment also has a protective effect in reducing drug abuse vulnerability. The current review describes some of the most important environment-dependent neural changes in reward-relevant brain structures and summarizes some of the key findings from the extensive literature showing how enrichment decreases the impact of drugs of abuse. Some critical neural mechanisms that may mediate the behavioral changes are postulated, along with some notes of caution about the limitations of the work cited.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Biological Psychiatry