Mice growing up in a basic cage maintain lifelong visual cortex plasticity if their parents were raised in an environment that promoted social interaction and physical and mental stimulation, according to a multigenerational study published in eNeuro. The research suggests life experience may be transmitted from one generation to the next through a combination of changes in gene expression and parental caretaking behavior.
Blocking visual input to one eye of adult mice leads to a rewiring of the visual cortex to prioritize input from the open eye. Siegrid Löwel and colleagues first confirmed that this plasticity declines over time in mice housed in standard cages while it is preserved throughout life in mice raised in an enriched environment—in this case a large, two-story cage with separate living and eating areas connected by a ladder, regularly changed mazes, and a slide.
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