Environmental enrichment improves cognition in aged Alzheimer's transgenic mice despite stable beta-amyloid deposition

Neuroreport. 2004 Aug 6;15(11):1751-4. doi: 10.1097/01.wnr.0000137183.68847.4e.


Environmental enrichment (EE) has been shown to improve cognitive performance and brain indices of cognition in normal mice and rats. Because the therapeutic potential of intensive, long-term EE to benefit patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) has yet to be explored, the present study evaluated the effect of long-term EE on cognition in an animal model of AD, the APPsw transgenic mouse. Beginning at 16 months of age, APPsw mice were put into EE or standard housing for 4 months and then tested in four cognitive-based tasks (Morris maze, circular platform, platform recognition, and radial arm water maze) between 20 and 22 months of age. Our results indicate that long-term EE of aged APPsw mice results in global, overall improvement in cognitive function across these tasks without decreasing brain beta-amyloid (A beta) deposition. The results suggest that long-term EE/cognitive stimulation could provide cognitive stabilization or improvement to AD patients through mechanisms independent of A beta deposition and clearance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics*
  • Aging / psychology
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / genetics
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Housing, Animal*
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides