Environmental enrichment consisting of social peers and novel objects is known to alter neurobiological functioning and have an influence on the behavioral effects of drugs of abuse in preclinical rodent models. An earlier review from our laboratory (Stairs and Bardo, 2009) provided an overview of enrichment-specific changes in addiction-like behaviors and neurobiology. The current review updates the literature in this extensive field. Key findings from this updated review indicate that enrichment produces positive outcomes in drug abuse vulnerability beyond just psychostimulants. Additionally, recent studies indicate that enrichment activates key genes involved in cell proliferation and protein synthesis in nucleus accumbens and enhances growth factors in hippocampus and neurotransmitter signaling pathways in prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hypothalamus. Remaining gaps in the literature and future directions for environmental enrichment and drug abuse research are identified.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biological Psychiatry
- Behavioral Neuroscience