Neonatal novelty exposure modulates hippocampal volumetric asymmetry in the rat.

Early life environmental manipulations have been shown to affect hippocampal-dependent learning, hippocampal volume and cerebral lateralization. In this study, we investigated the effects of neonatal stimulation on hippocampal volumetric asymmetry. Long-Evans hooded rats were exposed to a novel non-home environment 3 min daily for the first 3 weeks of life. Histological measures of the left and right hippocampus were made at 8 months of age. We found that neonatal novelty exposure resulted in a long-lasting change in hippocampal volumetric asymmetry. Specifically, this brief and transient early life stimulation increased the right hippocampal volumetric dominance at mid-adulthood.