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Author

Sharon Shin

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Psychology

Abstract

Enriched environments (EE) have long been associated with beneficial changes in the brain, such as neurogenesis and enhanced spatial learning (Naka, Shiga, Yaguchi, & Okado, 2002). In an effort to further understand the effect of long-term EE on females, the current study assigned sixteen female Long Evans rats to either an EE condition or standard condition for seven months. In the EE conditions, animals were housed together with novel objects that were rotated everyweek for increased stimulation. Physiological data indicated the EE subjects had significantlyhigher levels of Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and a higher DHEA:Cortisol (CORT) ratio than the standard condition. Furthermore, in the open field test, the enriched rats had significantly less freezing than the standard rats, a behavior associated with fear and anxiety. The enriched rats also exhibited decreased floating, a behavior currently disputed in its interpretation. Thus, the current study suggests that long-term EE exposure enhances neurobehavioral markers of emotional resilience in female rats.

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