The preventative effects of Environmental Enrichment for Traumatic Brain Injury in question

From a paper published in Mar. 2023 in the Journal of Brain Research

Moschonas EH, Niesman PJ, Vozzella VJ, Bittner RA, Brennan CJ, Cheng JP, Bondi CO, Kline AE. Enriching adult male rats prior to traumatic brain injury does not attenuate neurobehavioral or histological deficits. Brain Res. 2023 Mar 4:148314. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2023.148314. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36878341.

Environmental Enrichment (EE) can enhance brain plasticity, neurotransmitter levels and anti-inflammatory mechanisms and this has been shown to reduce brain damage caused by neurological disorders. EE has also been shown to protect the brain and attenuate symptoms of brain disorders when they develop, such as Alzheimer’s disease. However, as we learn more, we see that in some conditions, Environmental Enrichment may not help protect the brain for the effects of all brain disorders.

In this paper, they wanted to look at Traumatic Brain Injury. Research shows that Environmental Enrichment helps the brain compensate significantly for the effects of Traumatic Brain Injury. The question is, can EE help prevent these effects if individuals are exposed to enrichment before the injury?

They placed a group of adult animals in an enriched environment and another group in a standard environment. After 2 weeks, they applied a sham injury and assessed the animals to compare the effects of the injury on the two populations. They saw no difference in the tests, which suggests that exposure to Environmental Enrichment before the injury did not have a protective effect.

However, after the tests, they placed the animals back into either Environmental Enrichment or Standard Environment. The enriched animals improved significantly, proving yet again that, at least, we can count on the therapeutic benefits of Environmental Enrichment for Traumatic Brain Injury.

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