Prenatal Enriched Environment improves emotional and attentional reactivity to adulthood stress

Behav Brain Res. 2013 Mar 15:241:185-90. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2012.12.019. Epub 2012 Dec 20.


Environmental factors seem to play a key role in brain and behavioral development, both in humans and animals. Different environmental manipulations, either pre- or post-natal, have been shown to exert long-term physiological and behavioral effects. While studies in the field of Enriched Environment mainly focus on the post weaning period and provide enrichment as a post adverse-experience manipulation, the preceding effects of prenatal Enriched Environment have rarely been investigated. In this study, we investigated the effects of prenatal Enriched Environment (through the entire pregnancy) followed by adulthood acute stress. In the prenatal Enriched Environment offspring, we found anxiety and depressive-like behaviors with poor attentional performance. Surprisingly, when prenatal Enriched Environment was followed by adulthood stress, we observed a dramatic restoration of these behavioral deficits. Our results suggest that prenatal Enriched Environment may substrate resiliency to adulthood stress.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Corticosterone / blood
  • Depression / psychology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Environment*
  • Female
  • Freezing Reaction, Cataleptic / physiology
  • Housing, Animal*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / psychology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology
  • Reflex, Startle / physiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*


  • Corticosterone