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Neuroreport. 2004 Aug 6;15(11):1751-4.

Environmental enrichment improves cognition in aged Alzheimer's transgenic mice despite stable beta-amyloid deposition.

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The Johnnie B. Byrd Alzheimer's Center and Research Institute, Tampa, FL 33620, USA.


Environmental enrichment (EE) has been shown to improve cognitive performance and brain indices of cognition in normal mice and rats. Because the therapeutic potential of intensive, long-term EE to benefit patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) has yet to be explored, the present study evaluated the effect of long-term EE on cognition in an animal model of AD, the APPsw transgenic mouse. Beginning at 16 months of age, APPsw mice were put into EE or standard housing for 4 months and then tested in four cognitive-based tasks (Morris maze, circular platform, platform recognition, and radial arm water maze) between 20 and 22 months of age. Our results indicate that long-term EE of aged APPsw mice results in global, overall improvement in cognitive function across these tasks without decreasing brain beta-amyloid (A beta) deposition. The results suggest that long-term EE/cognitive stimulation could provide cognitive stabilization or improvement to AD patients through mechanisms independent of A beta deposition and clearance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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