Does experience enhance cognitive flexibility? An overview of the evidence provided by the environmental enrichment studies

Research output: Contribution to journalShort survey

Abstract

Neuroplasticity accounts for the ability of the brain to change in both structure and function in consequence of life experiences. An enhanced stimulation provided by the environment is able to create a form of brain, neural, and cognitive reserve, which allows an individual to cope better with the environmental demands, also in case of neural damage leading to cognitive decline. With its complex manipulation of several stimuli, the animal experimental paradigm of environmental enrichment (EE) appears particularly effective in modulating the ability to successfully respond to the ever-changing characteristics of the environment. According to this point, it could be very relevant to analyze the specific effects of EE on cognitive flexibility (CF). CF could be defined as the ability to effectively change behavior in response to the environmental condition changing. This review article is specifically aimed to summarize and focus on the available evidence in relation to the effects of EE on CF. To this aim, findings obtained in behavioral tasks specifically structured to investigate animal CF, such as reversal learning and attentional set-shifting tests (tasks based on the request of responding to a rewarding rule that changes, within one or multiple perceptual dimensions), are reviewed. Data provided on the structural and biochemical correlates of these findings are also enumerated. Studies realized in healthy animals and also in pathological models are considered. On the whole, the summarized evidence clearly supports the specific beneficial effects of EE on CF. However, further studies on this key topic are strictly required to gain a comprehensive and detailed framework on the mechanisms by which an enhanced stimulation could improve CF.

Original languageEnglish
Article number150
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Volume13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 9 2019

Fingerprint

Aptitude
Cognitive Reserve
Reversal Learning
Neuronal Plasticity
Life Change Events
Brain

Keywords

  • Animal models
  • Attentional set-shifting
  • Cerebral reserve
  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Environmental enrichment
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Reversal learning
  • Rodents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

@article{4347678c50e349cfa4cd3369c7107cc7,
title = "Does experience enhance cognitive flexibility? An overview of the evidence provided by the environmental enrichment studies",
abstract = "Neuroplasticity accounts for the ability of the brain to change in both structure and function in consequence of life experiences. An enhanced stimulation provided by the environment is able to create a form of brain, neural, and cognitive reserve, which allows an individual to cope better with the environmental demands, also in case of neural damage leading to cognitive decline. With its complex manipulation of several stimuli, the animal experimental paradigm of environmental enrichment (EE) appears particularly effective in modulating the ability to successfully respond to the ever-changing characteristics of the environment. According to this point, it could be very relevant to analyze the specific effects of EE on cognitive flexibility (CF). CF could be defined as the ability to effectively change behavior in response to the environmental condition changing. This review article is specifically aimed to summarize and focus on the available evidence in relation to the effects of EE on CF. To this aim, findings obtained in behavioral tasks specifically structured to investigate animal CF, such as reversal learning and attentional set-shifting tests (tasks based on the request of responding to a rewarding rule that changes, within one or multiple perceptual dimensions), are reviewed. Data provided on the structural and biochemical correlates of these findings are also enumerated. Studies realized in healthy animals and also in pathological models are considered. On the whole, the summarized evidence clearly supports the specific beneficial effects of EE on CF. However, further studies on this key topic are strictly required to gain a comprehensive and detailed framework on the mechanisms by which an enhanced stimulation could improve CF.",
keywords = "Animal models, Attentional set-shifting, Cerebral reserve, Cognitive flexibility, Environmental enrichment, Neuroplasticity, Reversal learning, Rodents",
author = "Francesca Gelfo",
year = "2019",
month = "7",
day = "9",
doi = "10.3389/fnbeh.2019.00150",
language = "English",
volume = "13",
journal = "Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience",
issn = "1662-5153",
publisher = "Frontiers Research Foundation",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Does experience enhance cognitive flexibility? An overview of the evidence provided by the environmental enrichment studies

AU - Gelfo, Francesca

PY - 2019/7/9

Y1 - 2019/7/9

N2 - Neuroplasticity accounts for the ability of the brain to change in both structure and function in consequence of life experiences. An enhanced stimulation provided by the environment is able to create a form of brain, neural, and cognitive reserve, which allows an individual to cope better with the environmental demands, also in case of neural damage leading to cognitive decline. With its complex manipulation of several stimuli, the animal experimental paradigm of environmental enrichment (EE) appears particularly effective in modulating the ability to successfully respond to the ever-changing characteristics of the environment. According to this point, it could be very relevant to analyze the specific effects of EE on cognitive flexibility (CF). CF could be defined as the ability to effectively change behavior in response to the environmental condition changing. This review article is specifically aimed to summarize and focus on the available evidence in relation to the effects of EE on CF. To this aim, findings obtained in behavioral tasks specifically structured to investigate animal CF, such as reversal learning and attentional set-shifting tests (tasks based on the request of responding to a rewarding rule that changes, within one or multiple perceptual dimensions), are reviewed. Data provided on the structural and biochemical correlates of these findings are also enumerated. Studies realized in healthy animals and also in pathological models are considered. On the whole, the summarized evidence clearly supports the specific beneficial effects of EE on CF. However, further studies on this key topic are strictly required to gain a comprehensive and detailed framework on the mechanisms by which an enhanced stimulation could improve CF.

AB - Neuroplasticity accounts for the ability of the brain to change in both structure and function in consequence of life experiences. An enhanced stimulation provided by the environment is able to create a form of brain, neural, and cognitive reserve, which allows an individual to cope better with the environmental demands, also in case of neural damage leading to cognitive decline. With its complex manipulation of several stimuli, the animal experimental paradigm of environmental enrichment (EE) appears particularly effective in modulating the ability to successfully respond to the ever-changing characteristics of the environment. According to this point, it could be very relevant to analyze the specific effects of EE on cognitive flexibility (CF). CF could be defined as the ability to effectively change behavior in response to the environmental condition changing. This review article is specifically aimed to summarize and focus on the available evidence in relation to the effects of EE on CF. To this aim, findings obtained in behavioral tasks specifically structured to investigate animal CF, such as reversal learning and attentional set-shifting tests (tasks based on the request of responding to a rewarding rule that changes, within one or multiple perceptual dimensions), are reviewed. Data provided on the structural and biochemical correlates of these findings are also enumerated. Studies realized in healthy animals and also in pathological models are considered. On the whole, the summarized evidence clearly supports the specific beneficial effects of EE on CF. However, further studies on this key topic are strictly required to gain a comprehensive and detailed framework on the mechanisms by which an enhanced stimulation could improve CF.

KW - Animal models

KW - Attentional set-shifting

KW - Cerebral reserve

KW - Cognitive flexibility

KW - Environmental enrichment

KW - Neuroplasticity

KW - Reversal learning

KW - Rodents

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85069454123&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85069454123&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.3389/fnbeh.2019.00150

DO - 10.3389/fnbeh.2019.00150

M3 - Short survey

AN - SCOPUS:85069454123

VL - 13

JO - Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience

JF - Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience

SN - 1662-5153

M1 - 150

ER -