Enhancement of cognitive function in models of brain disease through environmental enrichment and physical activity

Terence Y C Pang*, Anthony J. Hannan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

145 Citations (Scopus)


This review will provide an overview of the non-drug based approaches that have been demonstrated to enhance cognitive function of the compromised brain, primarily focussed on the two most widely adopted paradigms of environmental enrichment and enhanced physical exercise. Environmental enrichment involves the generation of novelty and complexity in animal housing conditions which facilitates enhanced sensory and cognitive stimulation as well as physical activity. In a wide variety of animal models of brain disorders, environmental enrichment and exercise have been found to have beneficial effects, including cognitive enhancement, delayed disease onset, enhanced cellular plasticity and associated molecular processes. Potential cellular and molecular mechanisms will also be discussed, which have relevance for the future development of 'enviromimetics', drugs which could mimic or enhance the beneficial effects of environmental stimulation. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'Cognitive Enhancers'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-528
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

A corrigendum for this article exists in Neuropharmacology, vol. 65, p. 20. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2012.09.017


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • animal models
  • cognitive deficits
  • cognitive enhancers
  • dementia
  • enviromimetics
  • environmental enrichment
  • gene-environment interactions
  • Huntington's disease
  • neurodegeneration
  • neurodevelopmental disorders
  • neurological diseases
  • Parkinson's disease
  • physical exercise
  • psychiatric disorders
  • schizophrenia


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