A Systematic Look at Environmental Modulation and Its Impact in Brain Development

Trends Neurosci. 2018 Jan;41(1):4-17. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2017.10.004. Epub 2017 Nov 8.


Several experimental procedures are currently used to investigate the impact of the environment on brain plasticity under physiological and pathological conditions. The available methodologies are aimed at obtaining global or specific reductions or intensifications of the stimuli, with initial standardization in animal models being paralleled by translational applications to humans. More procedures can be combined together or applied in series to obtain powerful experimental paradigms, and the choice of a given setting should take into account the specific genetic background, age, and phenotypic vulnerabilities of the target subjects. Sophisticated use of environmental manipulations can increase our knowledge of the mechanisms underlying experience-dependent plasticity, opening the way for new therapies for neurodevelopmental disorders, dysfunctions of plasticity, and brain aging.

Keywords: brain aging; brain plasticity; environmental therapy; infant massage; maternal care; sensorimotor enrichment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Environment*
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity