Enriched environments, experience-dependent plasticity and disorders of the nervous system

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2006 Sep;7(9):697-709. doi: 10.1038/nrn1970.


Behavioural, cellular and molecular studies have revealed significant effects of enriched environments on rodents and other species, and provided new insights into mechanisms of experience-dependent plasticity, including adult neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity. The demonstration that the onset and progression of Huntington's disease in transgenic mice is delayed by environmental enrichment has emphasized the importance of understanding both genetic and environmental factors in nervous system disorders, including those with Mendelian inheritance patterns. A range of rodent models of other brain disorders, including Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, fragile X and Down syndrome, as well as various forms of brain injury, have now been compared under enriched and standard housing conditions. Here, we review these findings on the environmental modulators of pathogenesis and gene-environment interactions in CNS disorders, and discuss their therapeutic implications.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Environment Design
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Malformations / etiology*
  • Nervous System Malformations / physiopathology*
  • Nervous System Malformations / prevention & control
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / etiology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / prevention & control
  • Neuronal Plasticity* / physiology
  • Recovery of Function
  • Rodentia / growth & development
  • Rodentia / physiology
  • Rodentia / psychology
  • Sensory Deprivation* / physiology