Environmental enrichment mitigates the effects of basal forebrain lesions on cognitive flexibility

P. De Bartolo, M. G. Leggio, L. Mandolesi, F. Foti, F. Gelfo, F. Ferlazzo, L. Petrosini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of the present study was to investigate whether basal forebrain lesions were able to impair a task requiring cognitive flexibility abilities and analyzing the effect of the rearing in an enriched environment on such form of flexibility in rats with or without basal forebrain cholinergic lesions. In adult rats reared in enriched or standard conditions of the cholinergic projection to the neocortex damage was inflicted by 192 IgG-saporin injection into Ch4 region of basal forebrain. Their performance was compared with those of intact animals reared in analogous conditions in a four-choice serial learning task which taps flexibility in adapting to changing response rules. The results underlined the crucial role of the basal forebrain in mediating cognitive flexibility behaviors and revealed that the increase in social interactions, cognitive stimulation and physical activity of the rearing in enriched environment attenuated impairments caused by the cholinergic lesion. These findings demonstrate that rearing in an enriched environment can improve the ability to cope with brain damage suffered in adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-453
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 23 2008


  • 192 IgG-saporin
  • cholinergic damage
  • cognitive impairment
  • cognitive reserve
  • plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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