Individuals with greater education and more cognitively demanding occupations are at a lower risk of developing dementia. These conditions can be replicated in rodents using environmental enrichment, a paradigm well documented to alleviate behavioral deficits associated with memory decline as well as other pathologies. The behavioral deficits associated with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), an aggressive form of dementia, have previously been associated with Aβ plaques and tau tangles in regions of the brain important for memory processing. However, new research indicates that the cellular arrest mechanism of senescence may contribute to the onset and progression of AD. As a behavioral correlate of senescence, spatial and associative memory were measured through the Morris water maze and active avoidance paradigm. To assess the effects on environmental enrichment on learning, 5xFAD mice and non-transgenic controls were placed into enriched or standard cages at weaning and tested for cognitive behavior after two months of differential housing. Enrichment equally improved performance of both genotypes in the active avoidance paradigm; however, it had no effect on spatial performance in the Morris water maze. In contrast, transgenic animals performed worse on the measure of spatial learning, but no differences in genotype were observed in the measure of associative learning. This study illustrates that two months of environmental enrichment did not provide sufficient therapeutic benefits to transgenic mice models of AD. It further demonstrates that AD pathology may develop earlier in regions of the brain involved in spatial memory performance compared to regions involved in associative learning.


Stavnezer, Amy Jo




Nervous System Diseases | Translational Medical Research

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2019 Emma N. Fikse