About this Research Topic
In the laboratory, environmental enrichment (EE) is often used as a protocol to understand the functional, behavioral and molecular mechanisms by which our environment can enhance neural plasticity. Enriched laboratory housing has also been evaluated for its neuroprotective and rehabilitative potential, particularly as a translational intervention for complications associated with stroke, Huntington's disease, Alzheimer's disease, age-related decline, hypoxia ischemia, traumatic brain injury, autism, cerebral palsy, and even psychological stress. Generally, EE is designed using a multifactorial approach incorporating novelty (e.g., alternating toys and locations of objects within the cage) as well as the increased opportunity for physical activity (e.g., increased cage space, running wheels) and social engagement facilitated through group housing. There are also instances of other variations in the environment that constitute enrichment and lead to demonstrable effects on behavior.
Importantly, EE is used to simulate a naturalistic environment for the promotion of species typical behaviors that foster the healthy development and maintenance of animals. In the laboratory, healthy development is essential to the generalizability of results when studying mechanisms that underlie neurophysiology and behavior. Understanding mechanisms mediating EE-induced effects can lead to the development of 'enviromimetics', therapeutics that mimic or enhance the beneficial effects of environmental stimulation.
The current Research Topic focuses on the translational nature of environmental enrichment in terms of neuroprotection/rehabilitation and the use of this system in the laboratory to promote species typical behavior and generalizable, rigorous investigation into the effects of experience on behavior and physiology.
We are seeking articles focused on the following areas of environmental enrichment:
-Standardization: What is enrichment? Methodical considerations for rigor, reproducibility
-Effects on behavior, physiology, cellular and molecular processes, cognition, learning and memory
Keywords: environmental enrichment, standardization, neuroprotection/rehabilitation, animal welfare, stress, clinical research, translation
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.