Environmental Therapy in Hypothyroid and Other Disadvantaged Animal Populations

  • John W. Davenport
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI)


Bluntly stated, our ultimate concern in this chapter is whether mental deficiency can be alleviated by environmental Stimulation. But since we will restrict our attention to subhuman studies bearing on this question, let us change the language at once from “mental deficiency” to “behavioral deficits,” and let the implications of these studies for the understanding and treatment of human behavioral dysfunctions emerge under their own power. Our focus will be on the question of whether the environmental stimulation conditions which have produced many kinds of brain changes in rodent studies (e.g., Rosensweig et al 1972; Greenough 1975) also result in improved behavioral capacities, particularly those reflected by performance in learning situations. We will examine this question in normal animals of both rodent and primate species, but our major concern will be with animal populations which are disadvantaged in their neural development and adult learning capacities by hormonal abnormalities, undernutrition, genetic factors, or other detrimental conditions in early life.


Passive Avoidance Error Score Environmental Stimulation Maze Learning Maze Problem 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Altman, J., Brunner, R.L., and Bayer, S.A. 1973. The hippocampus and behavioral maturation. Behav.Biol. 8:557–596.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Balasz, R. 1971. Biochemical effects of thyroid hormones in the developing brain. UCLA Forum in Medical Sciences, No. 14, pp. 273–320.Google Scholar
  3. Balasz, R., Cocks, W.A., Eayrs, J.T., and Kovacs, S. 1971. Biochemical effects of thyroid hormones on the developing brain, pp. 357–379. In M. Hanburgh and E.J.W. Barrington (Eds.), Hormones in Development. Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York.Google Scholar
  4. Bennett, E.L., Rosenzweig, M.R., and Diamond, M.C. 1970. Time courses of effects of differential experience on brain measures and behavior of rats, pp. 55–88. In W.L. Byrne (Ed.). Molecular Approaches to Learning and Memory. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Bennett, E.L., Rosenzweig, M.R., Diamond, M. C., Morimoto, H., and Herbert, M. 1974. Effects of successive environments on brain measures. Physiol.Behav. 12:621–631.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bernstein, L. 1972. The reversability of learning deficits in early environmentally restricted rats as a function of amount of experience in later life. J. Psychosom. Res. 16:71–73.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bernstein, L. 1973. A study of some enriching variables in a freeenvironment for rats. J. Psychosom.Res. 17:85–88.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bingham, W.E., and Griffiths, W.J. 1952. The effect of differential environments during infancy on adult behavior in the rat. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 45:307–312.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Block, J.R., and Essman, W.B. 1965. Growth hormone administration during pregnancy: A behavioral difference in offspring rats. Nature 205:1136–1137.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brown, C.P., and King, M.G. 1971. Developmental environment: Variables important for later learning and changes in cholinergic activity. Develop. Psychobiol. 4:275–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brown, R.T. 1968. Early experience and problem solving ability. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 65:433–440.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clendinnen, B.G., and Eayrs, J.T. 1961. The anatomical and physiological effects of prenatally administered somatotrophin on cerebral development in rats. J. Endocrinol., 22: 183–193.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cooper, R.M., and Zubek, J.P. 1958. Effects of enriched and restricted early environments on the learning ability of bright and dull rats. Canad. J. Psychol. 12:159–164.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cummins, R.A., Walsh, R.N., Budtz-Olsen, O.E., Konstantinos, T., and Horsfall, C.R. 1973. Environmentally-induced changes in the brains of elderly rats. Nature 243:516–518.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Davenport, J.W. 1970. Cretinism in rats: Enduring behavioral deficit induced by tricyanoaminopropene. Science 167: 1007–1009.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Davenport, J.W., and Dorcey, T.P. 1972. Hypothyroidism: Learning deficit induced in rats by early exposure to thiouracil. Hormon. Behav. 3:97–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Davenport, J.W., and Gonzalez, L.M. 1973. Neonatal thyroxine stimulation in rats: Accelerated behavioral maturation and subsequent learning deficit. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol., 85: 397–408.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Davenport, J.W., and Hennies, R.S. 1976. Perinatal hypothyroidism in rats: Persistent motivational and metabolic effects. Develop. Psychobiol., in press.Google Scholar
  19. Davenport, J.W., Hagquist, W.W., and Rankin, G.R. 1970. The symmetrical maze: An automated closed-field test series for rats. Behav. Res. Meth. Instrum. 2:112–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Davenport, J.W., Gonzalez, L.M., Hennies, R.S., and Hagquist, W.W. 1976. Severity and timing of early thyroid deficiency as factors in the induction of learning disorders in rats. Hormon. Behav., in press.Google Scholar
  21. Davenport, J.W., Hagquist, W.W., and Hennies, R.S. 1975. Neonatal hyperthyroidism: Maturational acceleration and learning deficit in triiodothyronine-stimulated rats. Physiol. Psychol. 3:231–236.Google Scholar
  22. Davenport, R.K., and Rogers, C.M. 1970. Differential rearing of the chimpanzee. Chimpanzee 3:337–360.Google Scholar
  23. Davenport, R.K., Rogers, C.M., and Rumbaugh, D.M. 1973. Long-term cognitive deficits in chimpanzees associated with early impoverished rearing. Develop. Psychol. 9:343–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Denenberg, V.H., Woodcock, J.M., and Rosenberg, K.M. 1968. Longterm effects of preweaning and postweaning free-environment experience on rats’ problem-solving behavior. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 66:533–535.Google Scholar
  25. Doty, B.A., 1972. The effects of cage environment upon avoidance responding of aged rats. J_. Gerontol. 27: 358–360.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Eayrs, J.T. 1961. Age as a factor determining the severity and reversibility of the effects of thyroid deprivation in the rat. J. Endocrinol. 22:409–419.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Eayrs, J.T. 1964. Effect of neonatal hyperthyroidism on maturation and learning in the rat. Anim. Behav. 12:195–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Eayrs, J.T. 1968. Developmental relationships between brain and thyroid, Pp. 239–255. In R.P. Michael (Ed.), Endocrinology and Human Behavior, Oxford University Press, London.Google Scholar
  29. Eayrs, J.T. 1971. Thyroid and developing brain: Anatomical and behavioral effects, pp. 345–355. In M. Hamburgh and E.J.W. Barrington (Eds.), Hormones in Development. Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York.Google Scholar
  30. Eayrs, J.T., and Goodhead, B. 1959. Postnatal development of the cerebral cortex in the rat. J. Anat. 93:385–401.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Eayrs, J.T., and Lishman, W.A. 1955. The maturation of behavior in hypothyroidism and starvation. Brit. J. Anim. Behav. 3:17–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Edwards, H.P., Barry, W.Y., and Wyspianski, J.O. 1969. Effect of differential rearing on photic evoked potentials and brightness discrimination in the albino rat. Develop. Psychobiol. 2:133–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ferchmin, P.A., Eterovic, V.A., and Caputto, R. 1970. Studies of brain weight and RNA content after short periods of exposure to environmental complexity. Brain Res. 20:49–57.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Forgays, D.G., and Forgays, J.W. 1952. The nature of the effect of free-environmental experience in the rat. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 45:322–328.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Forgays, D.G., and Read, J.M. 1962. Crucial periods for free-environmental experience in the rat. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 55: 816–818.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Forgus, R.H. 1954. The effect of early perceptual learning on the behavioral organization of adult rats. J. Comp. Physiol.Psychol. 47: 331–336.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Freeman, B.J., and Ray, O.S. 1972. Strain, sex, and environmental effects on appetitively and aversively motivated learning tasks. Develop. Psychobiol. 5:101–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Gill, J.H., Reid, L.D., and Porter, P.B. 1966. Effects of restricted rearing on Lashley stand performance. Psychol. Rep. 19:239–242.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Globus, A., Rosenzweig, M.R., Bennett, E.L., and Diamond, L.C. 1973. Effects of differential experience on dendritic spine counts in rat cerebral cortex. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol., 82: 175–181.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Gluck, J.P., and Harlow, H.F. 1971. The effects of deprived and enriched rearing conditions on later learning: A review, pp. 103–119. In L.E. Jarrard (Ed.), Cognitive Processes of Nonhuman Primates. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  41. Gluck, J.P., Harlow, H.F., and Schiltz, K.A. 1973. Differential effect of early enrichment and deprivation on learning in the rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta). J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 84:598–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Gonzalez, L.M., and Davenport, J.W. 1972. Partial alleviation of learning deficit in hypothyroid rats by environmental enrichment. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  43. Greenough, W.T. 1975. Experimental modification of the developing brain. Amer. Sci. 63:37–46.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Greenough, W.T., Madden, T.C., and Fleischmann, T.B. 1972a. Effects of isolation, daily handling, and enriched rearing on maze learning. Psychon. Sci. 27:279–280.Google Scholar
  45. Greenough, W.T., Wood, W.E., and Madden, T.C. 1972b. Possible memory storage differences among mice reared in environments varying in complexity. Behav. Biol. 7:717–722.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Greenough, W.T., Yuwiler, A., and Dollinger, M. 1973. Effects of posttrial eserine administration on learning in “enriched”-and “impoverished”-reared rats. Behav. Biol. 8:261–272.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Harlow, H.F., Dodsworth, R.O., and Harlow, M.K. 1965. Total social isolation in monkeys. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 54:90–97.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Harlow, H.F., Schutz, K.A., Harlow, M.K., and Mohr, D.J. 1971. The effects of early adverse and enriched environments on the learning ability of rhesus monkeys, Pp. 121–148. In L.E. Jarrard (Ed.), Cognitive Processes of Nonhuman Primates, Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  49. Hebb, D.O. 1949. The Organization of Behavior, Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  50. Hebb, D.O., and Williams, K.A. 1946. A method of rating animal intelligence. J. Gen. Psychol., 34: 59–65.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Henderson, N.D. 1970. Genetic influences on the behavior of mice can be obscured by laboratory rearing. J. Comp. Physiol.Psychol. 73:505–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Henderson, N.D. 1972. Relative effects of early rearing environment and genotype on discrimination learning in house mice. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 79:243–253.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Hughes, A.M. 1944. Cretinism in rats induced by thiouracil. Endocrinol. 34:69–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Hughes, K.R. 1965. Dorsal and ventral hippocampus lesions and maze learning: Influence of preoperative environment. Canad. J. Psychol. 19:325–332.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Hughes, K.R., and Zubek, J.P. 1956. Effect of glutamic acid on the learning ability of bright and dull rats: I. Administration during infancy. Canad. J_. Psychol. 10:132–138.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Hymovitch, B. 1952. The effects of experimental variations on problem solving in the rat. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 45:313–321.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Krech, D., Rosenzweig, M.R., and Bennett, E.L. 1962. Relations between brain chemistry and problem solving among rats raised in enriched and impoverished environments. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 55:801–807.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Kuenzle, C.C., and Knllsel, A. 1974. Mass training of rats in a superenriched environment. Physiol. Behav. 13:205–210.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Lessac, M.S., and Solomon, R.L. 1969. Effects of early isolation on the later behavior of beagles: A methodological demonstration. Develop. Psychol. 1:14–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Levitsky, D.A., and Barnes, R.H. 1972. Nutritional and environmental interactions in the behavioral development of the rat: Long-term effects. Science 176:68–71.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Møllgaard, K., Diamond, M.C., Bennett, E.L., Rosenzweig, M.R., and Lindner, B. 1971. Qualitative synaptic changes with differential experience in rat brain. Internat. J. Neurosci. 2:113–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Morgan, M.J. 1973. Effects of post-weaning environment on learning in the rat. Anim. Behav. 21:429–442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Nicholson, J.L., and Altman, J. 1972a. The effects of early hypoand hyperthyroidism on the development of the rat cerebellar cortex: I. Cell proliferation and differentiation. Brain Res. 44:13–23.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Nicholson, J.L., and Altman, J. 1972b. The effects of early hypoand hyperthyroidism on the development of the rat cerebellar cortex: II. Synaptogenesis in the molecular layer. Brain Res. 44:25–36.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Nyman, A.J. 1967. Problem solving in rats as a function of experience at different ages. J. Genet. Psychol. 110:31–39.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Ough, B.R., Beatty, W.W., and Khalili, J. 1972. Effects of isolated and enriched rearing on response inhibition. Psychon. Sci. 27:293–294.Google Scholar
  67. Parsons, P.J., and Spear, N.E. 1972. Long-term retention of avoidance learning by immature and adult rats as a function of environmental enrichment. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol., 80: 297–303.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Ray, O.S., and Hochhauser, S. 1969. Growth hormone and environmental complexity effects on behavior in the rat. Develop. Psychol. 1:311–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Reid, L.D., Gill, J.H., and Porter, P.B. 1968. Isolated rearing and Hebb-Williams maze performance. Psychol. Rep. 22:1073–1077.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Rosenzweig, M.R. 1971. Effects of environment on development of brain and behavior, Pp. 303–342. In E. Tobach, L.R. Aronson, and E. Shaw (Eds.), The Biopsychology of Development. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  71. Rosenzweig, M.R. 1972. Environmental enrichment, brain plasticity, and behavior. Paper delivered at AAAS meeting, December, 1972, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  72. Rosenzweig, M.R., Bennett, E.L., and Diamond, M.C. 1972. Brain changes in response to experience. Sci. Amer. 226:22–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Schapiro, S. 1968. Some psychological, biochemical, and behavioral consequences of neonatal hormone administration: Cortisol and thyroxine. Gen. Comp.Endocrinol. 10:214–228.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Schwartz, S. 1964. Effect of neonatal cortical lesions and early environmental factors on adult rat behavior. J. Comp. Physiol.Psychol. 57:72–77.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Schweikert, G.E., and Collins, G. 1966. The effects of differential postweaning environments on later behavior in the rat. J. Genet. Psychol. 109:255–263.Google Scholar
  76. Seligman, M.E.P. 1975. Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death. Freeman and Co., San Francisco.Google Scholar
  77. Smith, H.V. 1972. Effects of environmental enrichment on openfield activity and Hebb-Williams problem solving in rats. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol., 80: 163–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Stone, J.M., and Greenough, W.T. 1975. Excess neonatal thyroxine: Effects on learning in infant and adolescent rats. Develop. Psychobiol., 8: 479–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Sturgeon, R.D., and Reid, L.D. 1971. Rearing variations and Hebb-Williams maze performance. Psychol. Rep. 29:571–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Tanabe, G. 1972. Remediating maze deficiencies by the use of environmental enrichment. Develop. Psychol. 7:224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Van Harreveld, A., and Fifova, E. 1975. A mechanism for potentiation and short-term memory. Proceedings, Konikl. Nederl. Akademie Van Wetenschappen — Amsterdam, Series C, 78, No. 1 pp. 21–24.Google Scholar
  82. Volkmar, F.R., and Greenough, W.T. 1972. Rearing complexity affects branching of dendrites in the visual cortex of the rat. Science 176: 1445–1447.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Wallock, D., and Davenport, J.W. 1970. Early motor development and adult learning deficits in neonatally thyroidectomized rats. Unpublished data.Google Scholar
  84. Walsh, R.N., and Cummins, R.A. 1976. The open field test: A critical review. Psychol. Bull., in press.Google Scholar
  85. Walsh, R.N., Budtz-Olsen, O.E., Penny, J.E., and Cummins, R.A. 1969. The effects of environmental complexity on the histology of the rat hippocampus. J_. Comp. Neurol. 137:361–366.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Wells, A.M., Geist, CR., and Zimmermann, R.R. 1972. Influence of environmental and nutritional factors on problem solving in the rat. Percept. Mot. Skills 35:235–244.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. West, R.W., and Greenough, W.T. 1972. Effect of environmental complexity on cortical synapses of rats: Preliminary results. Behav. Biol. 7:279–283.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Wilkins, L. 1965. The Diagnosis and Treatment of Endocrine Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence, 3rd Ed. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, Ill.Google Scholar
  89. Wilson, M., Warren, J.M., and Abbott, L. 1965. Infantile stimulation, activity and learning by cats. Child. Devel., 36: 843–853.Google Scholar
  90. Woods, P.J. 1959. The effects of free and restricted environmental experience on problem-solving behavior in the rat. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 52:399–402.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Woods, P.J., Ruckeishaus, S.I., and Bowling, D.M. 1960. Some effects of “free” and “restricted” environmental rearing conditions upon adult behavior in the rat. Psychol. Rep. 6:191–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Woods, P.J., Fiske,.S., and Ruckelshaus, S.I. 1961. The effects of drives conflicting with exploration on the problem-solving behavior of rats reared in free and restricted environments. J_. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 54:167–169.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • John W. Davenport
    • 1
  1. 1.Regional Primate Research CenterUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations