Enrichment to odors improves olfactory discrimination in adult rats

Behav Neurosci. 2006 Feb;120(1):173-9. doi: 10.1037/0735-7044.120.1.173.


The authors tested how prior odor enrichment affects the spontaneous discrimination of both preexposed and novel odors. Experimental rats were exposed to single odors or to pairs of similar or dissimilar odors for 1-hr periods twice daily over 20 days. Spontaneous discriminations between pairs of similar odors were tested before and after the odor exposure period using an olfactory habituation task. The authors found that (a) experimental rats did not spontaneously discriminate similar odor pairs before the exposure period, whereas they spontaneously discriminated them after the enrichment period, and (b) the improvement of performance was not selective for the odors used during enrichment. These results show that odor experience changes perception in the manner predicted based on other groups' electrophysiological experiments.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic
  • Male
  • Odorants*
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Smell / physiology*