Environmental enrichment preserves social odor preference and object recognition performance in maternally separated CD-1 mice

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Catherine A. Cornwell

Second Advisor

Richard Gramzow


Environmental Enrichment, Maternal Separation


This study examined the effect of early maternal separation (MS) on odor production, odor preference, and cognitive abilities in adolescent CD-1 mice and whether housing in an enriched environment (EE) after weaning would mitigate any adverse effects of MS. MS mice were removed from their nest and their mother for 3 hours a day from post-natal day (PND) 0 - 14. This procedure is a widely used model that mimics the effects of inconsistent or inadequate caretaking of human infants. Then on PND 21-35 half of the MS mice were placed in a standard environment and the other half were placed in an enriched environment. The results from the series of experiments showed that MS is not causing a change in odor production. Control mice were equally attracted to the nest odors of other control mice, MS standard mice, and MS enriched mice. The results also showed that MS causes social odor preference deficits, but post-weaning EE can prevent these deficits. Lastly, this study showed that MS causes a performance deficit on the novel object recognition task (NORT) and post-weaning EE mitigates this deficit. This study provides rationale for using EE as a non-invasive form of environment therapy to treat deficits associated with early life stress (ELS) and neurodevelopmental disorders.


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