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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2002 Aug;73(1):209-24.

Dissociable effects of isolation rearing and environmental enrichment on exploration, spatial learning and HPA activity in adult rats.

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  • 1Institute of Animal Sciences, Physiology and Animal Husbandry, ETH Zurich, Schorenstrasse 16, Schwerzenbach 8603, Switzerland.

Abstract

Male Lister hooded rats were reared from weaning either singly or in groups of three in either barren or enriched cages (n=9 each) to study effects of isolation rearing and environmental enrichment on open-field activity, object exploration, activity in the Light/Dark box (L/D box), spatial learning and memory in the Morris water maze, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) activity in response to restraint stress. Regardless of inanimate background, isolation rearing mainly enhanced activity under several conditions of environmental novelty. By contrast, environmental enrichment, regardless of social background, primarily accelerated habituation to novelty and improved spatial learning and memory. None of the treatments significantly altered basal and response levels of plasma ACTH and corticosterone. Furthermore, rats reared singly in barren cages showed persistent activity in the L/D box, indicating an interaction between isolation-induced hyperactivity and reduced habituation due to barren caging. These results show that isolation rearing and environmental enrichment affect behaviour selectively, while at the same time revealing biologically relevant interactions between social and inanimate stimulation. It is concluded that systematic variation of social and inanimate stimulation can help distinguish between effects that generalise across variation in environmental background and effects that are idiosyncratic to a specific environmental background.

PMID:
12076740
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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