The effects of short-term and long-term environmental enrichment on locomotion, mood-like behavior, cognition and hippocampal gene expression

Gaurav Singhal, Julie Morgan, Magdalene C. Jawahar, Frances Corrigan, Emily J. Jaehne, Catherine Toben, Jimmy Breen, Stephen M. Pederson, Anthony J. Hannan, Bernhard T. Baune

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Environmental enrichment (EE)has been shown to modulate behavior and hippocampal gene expression; however, the currently available literature does not explain the differential effects that may relate to the duration of EE. Aim: To investigate the differential effects of short- and long-term EE on locomotion, anxiety-, depressive- and cognition-like behaviors, and hippocampal gene expression under physiological conditions. Methods: We assigned either short-term or long-term intervention with respective controls to healthy C57BL/6 mice (n = 12–16/group). The short-term EE group received EE for four weeks starting at eight months of age, while the long-term EE group received EE for six months starting at three months of age. Differential effects of the duration of EE on various behaviors and hippocampal gene expression at nine months of age were measured using an established behavioral battery and high-throughput RT-qPCR, respectively. Results: Both short-term and long-term EE significantly enhanced locomotion in the home cage and reduced depressive-like behavior in the forced-swim test. Long-term EE, however, reduced locomotion in the open-field test. Additionally, short-term EE reduced the mean body weight and showed anxiolytic effects in the elevated-zero maze (EZM), while these effects were lost after long-term EE. There were no effects of either short-term or long-term EE on the expression of 43 hippocampal genes of interest tested at adjusted p < 0.05. Conclusion: Both short and long-term EE are equally beneficial for baseline locomotor activity and depressive-like behavior. However, long-term EE affects locomotion adversely in a threatening environment and is anxiogenic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111917
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 5 Aug 2019


  • Anxiety
  • Cognition
  • Depression
  • Environmental enrichment
  • Gene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this