Enriched Environment and White Matter in Aging Brain

Authors

  • Shu Yang,

    1. Department of Histology and Embryology, Capital Medical University, Beijing 100069, People's Republic of China
    2. Department of Histology and Embryology, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, People's Republic of China
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  • Wei Lu,

    1. Department of Histology and Embryology, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, People's Republic of China
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  • De-Shan Zhou,

    1. Department of Histology and Embryology, Capital Medical University, Beijing 100069, People's Republic of China
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  • Yong Tang

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Histology and Embryology, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, People's Republic of China
    • Department of Histology and Embryology, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, People's Republic of China
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Abstract

Normal aging is commonly associated with decreased cognitive functions, which could be conspicuously alleviated by enriched environment (EE) with physical, social, and sensory stimuli, suggesting that aging brain still has intriguing plasticity. Multiple researches have been carried out to explore the structural and the molecular changes in aging brain, which would be considered for evidences that EE regulated brain plasticity. Because there is no significant neuron loss in aging cerebral cortex and the white matter is crucial for cognitive functions, this review focused on the age-related white matter changes and the effects of EE on aged white matter. Data from our stereology laboratory revealed that age-related spatial memory declines had more to do with white matter alterations, which were due to marked demyelination and loss of oligodendrocytes in the white matter. We also demonstrated that EE recovered spatial memory impairment and increased white matter volume by promoting marked remyelination in aged brain. This review approached the issue that EE might contribute to normal aging and be beneficial for those suffering from demyelinated diseases. Anat Rec, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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