Previous research has indicated that environment and experience can have significant effects on the risk of and progression of symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD), possibly by decreasing oxidative stress that can contribute to the development of neurodegenerative diseases. Enriched environment and physical activity, specifically, are neuroprotective and demonstrate the ability to decrease cognitive and motor deficits. In the present study, we investigate the therapeutic effects of environmental enrichment (social and intellectual stimulation, EE) and physical enrichment (forced exercise, PE) on motor functioning and cellular plasticity either before or after a lesion in a 6-OHDA rat model of PD. Prevention, exposure to EE and PE before the 6-OHDA lesion, was significantly more effective in reducing the motor deficits that result from the lesion. Future research should continue to explore prevention as an important method of building a cognitive reserve, reducing cellular oxidative stress, increasing neurotrophin levels such as GDNF, and reducing the negative behavioral consequences of neurodegenerative disease.


Stavnezer, Amy Jo




Behavioral Neurobiology | Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience


Parkinson's disease, 6-hydroxydopamine, environmental enrichment, physical enrichment, GDNF, oxidative stress

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 Emily R. Wilson