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Research That Supports Early Puppy Training

This sections is going to be rebuilt I will post research and explain how it project supports the process and claims of the program  04/06/2011
downloaded from the web 01/15/2008

Response of the Brain to Enrichment
by Marian Cleeves Diamond


Before 1960, the brain was considered by scientists to be immutable, subject only to genetic control. In the early sixties, however, investigators were seriously speculating that environmental influences might be capable of altering brain structure. By 1964, two research laboratories proved that the morphology and chemistry of the brain could be experientially altered (Bennett et al. 1964; Hubel and Wiesel 1965). Since then, the capacity of the brain to respond to environmental input, specifically "enrichment," has become an accepted fact among neuroscientists, educators and others. In fact, the demonstration that environmental enrichment can modify structural components of the rat brain at any age altered prevailing presumptions about the brain's plasticity. (Diamond et al. 1964; Diamond et al. 1985). The cerebral cortex, the area associated with higher cognitive processing, is more receptive than other parts of the brain to environmental enrichment. The message is clear: Although the brain possesses a relatively constant macrostructural organization, the ever-changing cerebral cortex, with its complex microarchitecture of unknown potential, is powerfully shaped by experiences before birth, during youth and, in fact, throughout life. It is essential to note that enrichment effects on the brain have consequences on behavior. Parents, educators, policy makers, and individuals can all benefit from such knowledge.


For the full text of Response of the Brain to Enrichment



Puppies that are exposed to early training have an increased capacity to learn new information later in life.

From A paper titled "Cognitive Neurorehabilitation"

Edited by Donald T. Stuss, Gordon Winocur and Ina H. Robertson

Cambridge University Press 1999 ISBN 0 521 58102 8 hb Written by Brian Kolb Robin Gibb

I have cited the work as completely as I know how.

This paper/book is about what happens in the brain during the processes of recovery from brain injury in people. There are some very interesting points made and research projects mentioned that apply to puppy training that I want to point out.

On page 10 they state two assumptions: the first is not relevant to puppy training but the second is very important and it is this

"Structural changes in the brain underlie behavioral changes."

Page 12 they make two points:

Neurons in the normal brain change their morphology during development and ageing.

Neurons in the normal brain show specific changes in response to specific environmental experiences. Theses are the two principal types of changes in the normal brain, changes during brain development and experience-dependant changes.

Normal Developmental Changes in the brain

The authors go into detail about brain development, covering dendrites, synapses, axon terminals and more. I don't pretend to understand what it's all about.

I think of it like a tree the early brain has trunk, as it develops it branches out and the branches branch out and those branches branch out and so on.

When mammals are born their brains are not fully developed. As the brain develops it becomes more and more finely complicated with a higher number of synapses and dendrites.

Scott and Fuller say that the puppy brain is turned on at 49 days.

Experience-Dependant changes in the brain.

Pg.10 Here is where it gets interesting. The authors show that rats raised in enriched environments have a large increase in dendrite length, spine density and changes that suggest a substantial increase in the number of synapses as opposed to rats raised in empty cages.

What the heck does that mean?

Rats that are raised in the enriched environments have more fully developed brains than other rats. Additionally, they exposed rats of different ages to the enriched environment and found that rats that weren't exposed until they were juvenile showed different changes then the rats that had very early exposure.

They say of the differences: "This capacity presumably reflects the increased potential for these animals (the rats that were exposed to an enriched environment early in life) to learn new information later."

Pg 14 The rats that were exposed very early in their development had the most profound changes and these changes are positive from a trainer's point of view.

The animal that is exposed to an enriched environment very early in development has an increased potential to learn new information later in life.

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