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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2004 May;81(3):200-10.

Environmental enrichment results in cortical and subcortical changes in levels of synaptophysin and PSD-95 proteins.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia.


Experience-dependent plasticity is thought to involve selective change in pre-existing brain circuits, involving synaptic plasticity. One model for looking at experience-dependent plasticity is environmental enrichment (EE), where animals are exposed to a complex novel environment. Previous studies using electron microscopy showed that EE resulted in synaptic plasticity in the visual cortex and hippocampus. However, the areas in the brain that have been examined following EE have been limited. The present study quantified potential synaptic plasticity throughout the brains of C57BL/6 mice using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for two synaptic proteins, synaptophysin and PSD-95. EE resulted in increased synaptophysin and PSD-95 levels through major brain regions, including anterior and posterior areas of the forebrain, hippocampus, thalamus, and hypothalamus. However, no changes in synaptophysin were detected in the cerebellum. These results demonstrate that EE results in an increase in levels of both pre- and post-synaptic proteins in multiple regions of the brain, and it is possible that such changes represent the underlying synaptic plasticity occurring in EE.

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