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Environmental Enrichment Enhances Episodic-Like Memory in Association with a Modified Neuronal Activation Profile in Adult Mice
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Author: Marianne Leger et al.

by Marianne Leger, Anne Quiedeville, Eleni Paizanis, Sharuja Natkunarajah, Thomas Freret, Michel Boulouard, Pascale Schumann-Bard

Although environmental enrichment is well known to improve learning and memory in rodents, the underlying neuronal networks' plasticity remains poorly described. Modifications of the brain activation pattern by enriched condition (EC), especially in the frontal cortex and the baso-lateral amygdala, have been reported during an aversive memory task in rodents. The aims of our study were to examine 1) whether EC modulates episodic-like memory in an object recognition task and 2) whether EC modulates the task-induced neuronal networks. To this end, adult male mice were housed either in standard condition (SC) or in EC for three weeks before behavioral experiments (n?=?12/group). Memory performances were examined in an object recognition task performed in a Y-maze with a 2-hour or 24-hour delay between presentation and test (inter-session intervals, ISI). To characterize the mechanisms underlying the promnesiant effect of EC, the brain activation profile was assessed after either the presentation or the test sessions using immunohistochemical techniques with c-Fos as a neuronal activation marker. EC did not modulate memory performances after a 2 h-ISI, but extended object recognition memory to a 24 h-ISI. In contrast, SC mice did not discriminate the novel object at this ISI. Compared to SC mice, no activation related to the presentation session was found in selected brain regions of EC mice (in particular, no effect was found in the hippocampus and the perirhinal cortex and a reduced activation was found in the baso-lateral amygdala). On the other hand, an activation of the hippocampus and the infralimbic cortex was observed after the test session for EC, but not SC mice. These results suggest that the persistence of object recognition memory in EC could be related to a reorganization of neuronal networks occurring as early as the memory encoding.
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