The neurodevelopmental disorder ADHD has become more prevalent in recent years and has raised alarm for parents and teachers alike. Many parents turning to pharmaceutical amphetamines to manage their child’s symptoms have found that negative side effects and potential for abuse make this a less desirable treatment. Therefore, research has turned towards environmental enrichment as a potential therapy to help reduce ADHD symptoms. This study looks specifically at a rodent model of ADHD, the SHR rat, to determine if environmental enrichment from a very early age can reduce hyperactivity. We also assessed if environmental enrichment can be used in as an adjunctive treatment with amphetamines to cause an even greater reduction in hyperactivity. While the treatment groups did not reduce overall distance traveled within the open field and Y mazes, the treatments did change where and how the rats moved within them. Amphetamine+enrichment appeared to increase overall anxiety in the rats as they spent more time on the edge of the maze. While the enrichment only group reduced their overall number of arm entries in the Y maze and increased in spontaneous alternation suggesting working memory benefits. In conclusion though enrichment did not have the reduction of hyperactivity as initially hypothesized it may still have benefits and value in helping ADHD children by shifting behavioral patterns. Further studies should look into more forms of environmental enrichment in order to see more comprehensively how enrichment effects an ADHD model.


Amy Jo Stavnezer



Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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