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J Neurosci. 2002 Sep 15;22(18):7840-3.

Environmental enrichment reverses the effects of maternal separation on stress reactivity.

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Developmental Neuroendocrinology Laboratory, Douglas Hospital Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montréal, Québec H4H 1R3, Canada.


Postnatal maternal separation increases hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) gene expression and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) and behavioral responses to stress. We report here that environmental enrichment during the peripubertal period completely reverses the effects of maternal separation on both HPA and behavioral responses to stress, with no effect on CRF mRNA expression. We conclude that environmental enrichment leads to a functional reversal of the effects of maternal separation through compensation for, rather than reversal of, the neural effects of early life adversity.

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