Enriched Environments for Rodents and their Interaction with Nicotine Administration
Patricia Mesa-Gresa, Marta Ramos-Campos and Rosa Redolat
Affiliation: Department of Psychobiology, Faculty of Psychology, Universitat de Valencia, Blasco Ibanez, 21. 46010 Valencia, Spain.
An active lifestyle throughout the life cycle seems to delay cognitive aging and dementia and has also been
evaluated as an intervention against addiction to cocaine and other drugs of abuse. In epidemiological studies with
humans, it has proved difficult to separate the cognitive, social and physical components from other variables that
influence lifestyle. Studies in animal models are useful for evaluating the impact of each of these factors and for
uncovering the underlying mechanisms of the benefits of complex environments. Preclinical studies have employed the
Environmental Enrichment paradigm (EE) which has been proposed as a preclinical model of positive life experiences in
humans. EE has been associated with protective effects against addiction to some drugs, but few studies have been carried
out in order to evaluate how its actions interact with nicotine addiction. In this context, the main aim of this review is to
provide an analysis of the preclinical studies evaluating the interaction between exposure to enriched environments with
the neurobiological and behavioral effects of nicotine administration. These studies will contribute to the development of
future preventive and therapeutic applications of enriched environments and positive experiences for drug addiction in
human beings, taking into account individual vulnerability. They also may shed light on new approaches to the treatment
of nicotine addiction, as interventions based in physical exercise in interaction with other environmental variables.
Keywords: Addiction, cognitive activity, environmental enrichment, nicotine, mice, physical activity, rats, sensorial
stimulation, social interaction.
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