Metabolic activation of the brain of young rats after exposure to environmental complexity

Dev Psychobiol. 1994 Sep;27(6):343-51. doi: 10.1002/dev.420270603.


Autoradiography with 14C-2-deoxyglucose was used to determine brain metabolic activity during the quiet period that follows after daily exploratory experiences in new complex environments. Eight 1-month-old, male Tryon rats were selected from two litters. Pairs of littermates matched by body weight were assigned to one of two conditions: rats housed individually in small home cages as the "impoverished condition," or rats exposed twice daily to changing and complex environments of two large cages with inanimate objects and conspecifics as the "enriched condition." After 4 days, rats were injected with 2-deoxyglucose, placed individually in a home cage and left undisturbed for 90 min until sacrificed. The brains of "enriched" rats were heavier than their "impoverished" littermates, and showed a global trend for metabolic enhancement. They also showed significantly greater amounts of 2-deoxyglucose in occipital cortex (27%), hippocampal subiculum (36%), and nucleus accumbens (40%).

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Nucleus Accumbens / physiology
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology
  • Organ Size / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Isolation


  • Blood Glucose