The exposure to enriched environments allows the maintenance of normal cognitive functioning even in the presence of brain pathology. Up until now, clinical and experimental studies have investigated environmental effects mainly on the symptoms linked to the presence of neuro-degenerative diseases, and no study has yet analyzed whether prolonged exposure to complex environments allows modifying the clinical expression and compensation of deficits of cerebellar origin. In animals previously exposed to complex stimulations, the effects of cerebellar lesions have been analyzed to verify whether a prolonged and intense exposure to complex stimulations affected the compensation of motor and cognitive functions following a cerebellar lesion. Hemicerebellectomized or intact animals housed in enriched or standard conditions were administered spatial tests. Postural asymmetries and motor behavior were also assessed. Exposure to the enriched environment almost completely compensated the effects of the hemicerebellectomy. In fact, the motor and cognitive performances of the enriched hemicerebellectomized animals were similar to those of the intact animals. The plastic changes induced by enhanced mental and physical activity seem to provide the development of compensatory responses against the disrupting motor and cognitive consequences of the cerebellar damage. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
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