Environmental enrichment: aging and memory

Yale J Biol Med. 2012 Dec;85(4):491-500. Epub 2012 Dec 13.


A decline in learning and memory is a feature of the normal aging process and associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Moreover, certain forms of dementia and memory loss are inevitable due to the normal aging process. The unavoidable effect of age on memory is an ongoing study, as the findings assist in identifying cortical functions of the brain. Histone acetylation is a mechanism in synaptic plasticity and a key function in learning and memory because changes within the process alter gene transcription and the quantity of synthesized proteins. Similar to histone acetylation, environmental enrichment has also been found to improve memory formation by stimulating synaptic plasticity. Through understanding the mechanisms by which environmental enrichment and histone acetylation interact in the brain and affect learning and memory, novel applications can be developed for therapeutic interventions to neurodegenerative diseases and aging.

Keywords: HDAC inhibitors; aging; environmental enrichment; histone acetylation; learning and memory; neurodegenerative diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Aging*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Memory*
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Histones