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  • 1 National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, India
  • 2 National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, India
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Exposure to enriched environment (EE) is known to promote sensory, cognitive, and motor stimulation with intensified levels of novelty and complexity. In this study, we investigated the positive regulatory effect of short-term exposure to EE on establishing functional recovery in monosodium glutamate (MSG)-induced obese rats. Unless treated, MSG rats exhibited peripheral insulin resistance, cognitive deficits, and a reduction in the total hippocampal volume with decreased neuron count in the DG, CA3, and CA1 subfields. These MSG rats were exposed to short-term EE for 15 days for a period of 6 h/day, beginning either at 45 or at 75 days of age. EE exposure has improved insulin sensitivity, yielded a significant increase in total hippocampal volume along with increase in neuron number in the CA1 subfield of the hippocampus in both age groups. However, as assessed by radial arm maze task, which relies upon the positive reinforcement to test spatial memory, and the Barnes maze task, which utilizes an aversive learning strategy, a complete recovery of cognitive function could be achieved in 2-month-old rats only and not among 3-month-old rats, thus highlighting the importance of critical window period for EE interventions in restoring the memory functions. These results suggest the therapeutic potential of EE paradigm in prevention of cognitive disorders.

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