Environmental enrichment is the stimulation of the brain by its physical and social surroundings. Brains in richer, more stimulating environments have higher rates of synaptogenesis and more complex dendrite arbors, leading to increased brain activity.
Effects of environmental enrichment on gene expression in the brain
An enriched environment is known to promote structural changes in the brain and to enhance learning and memory performance. Expression of a large number of genes changes in response to enrichment training, many of which can be linked to neuronal structure, synaptic plasticity, and transmission. A number of these genes may play important roles in modulating learning and memory capacity.