Complex living conditions impair behavioral inhibition but improve attention in rats

Rixt van der Veen*, Jiska Kentrop, Liza van der Tas, Manila Loi, Marinus H. van Ijzendoorn, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marian Joëls

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Rapid adaptation to changes, while maintaining a certain level of behavioral inhibition is an important feature in every day functioning. How environmental context and challenges in life can impact on the development of this quality is still unknown. In the present study, we examined the effect of a complex rearing environment during adolescence on attention and behavioral inhibition in adult male rats. We also tested whether these effects were affected by an adverse early life challenge, maternal deprivation (MD). We found that animals that were raised in large, two floor MarlauTM cages, together with 10 conspecifics, showed improved attention, but impaired behavioral inhibition in the 5-choice serial reaction time task. The early life challenge of 24 h MD on postnatal day 3 led to a decline in bodyweight during adolescence, but did not by itself influence responses in the 5-choice task in adulthood, nor did it moderate the effects of complex housing. Our data suggest that a complex rearing environment leads to a faster adaptation to changes in the environment, but at the cost of lower behavioral inhibition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number357
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue numberDEC
Publication statusPublished - 24 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • 5-choice SRTT
  • Adolescence
  • Attention
  • Behavioral inhibition
  • Early life
  • Enriched environment
  • Maternal deprivation


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