Neurobehavioral Effects of Restricted and Unpredictable Environmental Enrichment in Rats
Rojas Carvajal, Mijail
Sequeira Cordero, Andrey
Brenes Sáenz, Juan Carlos
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To study how motivational factors modulate experience-dependent neurobehavioral plasticity, we modify a protocol of environmental enrichment (EE) in rats. We assumed that the benefits derived from EE might vary according to the level of incentive salience attributed to it. To enhance the rewarding properties of EE, access to the EE cage varied randomly from 2 to 48 h for 30 days (REE). The REE group was enriched only 50% of the time and was compared to standard housing and continuous EE (CEE) groups. As behavioral readout, we analyzed the spontaneous activity and the ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) within the EE cage weekly, and in the open field test at the end of the experiment. In the cage, REE increased the utilization of materials, physical activity, and the rate of appetitive USVs. In the OF, the CEE-induced enhancements in novelty habituation and social signaling were equaled by the REE. At the neural level, we measured the expression of genes related to neural plasticity and epigenetic regulations in different brain regions. In the dorsal striatum and hippocampus, REE upregulated the expression of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor, its tropomyosin kinase B receptor, and the DNA methyltransferase 3A. Altogether, our results suggest that the higher activity within the cage and the augmented incentive motivation provoked by the REE boosted its neurobehavioral effects equaling or surpassing those observed in the CEE condition. As constant exposures to treatments or stimulating environments are virtually impossible for humans, restricted EE protocols would have greater translational value than traditional ones.
Enlace externo al ítem10.3389/fphar.2020.00674
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