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Behavioral Effects of Enrichment and Nicotine in Male Sprague Dawley Rats

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Uniformed Services University Of The Health Sciences Bethesda United States

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Three experiments examined effects of environmental enrichment and nicotine on body weight, food consumption, and activity in 64 male Sprague Dawley rats. Rats were housed in enriched physical, social, or super social and physical enrichment or non-enriched environments. Half of the animals received nicotine for 18 days. Rats in the super-enriched group, compared with rats in the other housing groups, had attenuated body weight gain, decreased home cage activity, decreased open-field locomotor activity, increased habituation to a novel environment, decreased voluntary exercise. Rats in the physically-enriched group had increased voluntary exercise compared with the other housing groups. Rats in the nicotine group, compared with the saline group, had decreased body weight and increased voluntary exercise. Environmental enrichment prolonged nicotines effects through nicotine cessation. Enrichments effects on body weight could not be explained by food consumption and activity. These findings and their implication for behavioral health are discussed.

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