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J Neurosci. 2002 Apr 1;22(7):2679-89.

Enriched odor exposure increases the number of newborn neurons in the adult olfactory bulb and improves odor memory.

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Perception and Memory Laboratory, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Unité de Recherche Associée 2182, Institut Pasteur, 75 724 Paris Cedex 15, France.


In the mammalian forebrain, most neurons originate from proliferating cells in the ventricular zone lining the lateral ventricles, including a discrete area of the subventricular zone (SVZ). In this region, neurogenesis continues into adulthood. Most of the cells generated in the SVZ are neuronal precursors with progeny that migrate rostrally along a pathway known as the rostral migratory stream before they reach the main olfactory bulb (MOB) where they differentiate into local interneurons. The olfactory system thus provides an attractive model to investigate neuronal production and survival, processes involving interplay between genetic and epigenetic influences. The present study was conducted to investigate whether exposure to an odor-enriched environment affects neurogenesis and learning in adult mice. Animals housed in either a standard or an odor-enriched environment for 40 d were injected intraperitoneally with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) to detect proliferation among progenitor cells and to follow their survival in the MOB. The number of BrdU-labeled neurons was not altered 4 hr after a single BrdU injection. In contrast, the number of surviving progenitors 3 weeks after BrdU injection was markedly increased in animals housed in an enriched environment. This effect was specific because enriched odor exposure did not influence hippocampal neurogenesis. Finally, we showed that adult mice housed in odor-enriched cages display improved olfactory memory without a change in spatial learning performance. By maintaining a constitutive turnover of granule cells subjected to modulation by environmental cues, ongoing bulbar neurogenesis could be associated with improved olfactory memory.

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