Small-scale environmental enrichment and exercise enhance learning and spatial memory of Carassius auratus, and increase cell proliferation in the telencephalon: an exploratory study.
Abreu CC., Fernandes TN., Henrique EP., Pereira PDC., Marques SB., Herdeiro SLS., Oliveira FRR., Magalhães NGM., Anthony DC., Melo MAD., Guerreiro-Diniz C., Diniz DG., Picanço-Diniz CW.
Carassius auratus is a teleost fish that has been largely used in behavioral studies. However, little is known about potential environmental influences on its performance of learning and memory tasks. Here, we investigated this question in C. auratus, and searched for potential correlation between exercise and visuospatial enrichment with the total number of telencephalic glia and neurons. To that end, males and females were housed for 183 days in either an enriched (EE) or impoverished environment (IE) aquarium. EE contained toys, natural plants, and a 12-hour/day water stream for voluntary exercise, whereas the IE had none of the above. A third plus-maze aquarium was used for spatial and object recognition tests. Different visual clues in 2 of its 4 arms were used to guide fish to reach the criteria to complete the task. The test consisted of 30 sessions and was concluded when each animal performed three consecutive correct choices or seven alternated, each ten trials. Learning rates revealed significant differences between EE and IE fish. The optical fractionator was used to estimate the total number of telencephalic cells that were stained with cresyl violet. On average, the total number of cells in the subjects from EE was higher than those from subjects maintained in IE (P=0.0202). We suggest that environmental enrichment significantly influenced goldfish spatial learning and memory abilities, and this may be associated with an increase in the total number of telencephalic cells.