chapter  5
Environmental enrichment: A preclinical model of neurorehabilitation for traumatic brain injury
ByCorina O. Bondi, Anthony E. Kline
Pages 10

Since the coincidental observation by neuropsychologist Donald O. Hebb in the 1940s that freely roaming and exploring pet rats performed more efficiently on problem-solving tasks than those kept in the laboratory in standard cages, environmental enrichment (EE) has been incorporated into experimental studies as a variable capable of influencing behavioral outcome and inducing neuroplasticity. The robustness of the behavioral and neural alterations observed in normal rats fueled the possibility that EE could be a form of neurorehabilitation for rats sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Indeed, as discussed in this chapter, numerous studies have demonstrated motor, cognitive, and histological benefits when EE is provided after TBI. The studies also provide several potential mechanisms for the EE-induced benefits. Taken together, these findings lend support for EE as a preclinical model of neurorehabilitation. Possible future experiments that could further enhance the model to more accurately mimic the clinic are also discussed.