Brain plasticity as a neurobiological reflection of individuality is difficult to capture in animal models. Inspired by behavioral-genetic investigations of human monozygotic twins reared together, the authors of this study obtained dense longitudinal activity data on 40 inbred mice living in one large enriched environment. The exploratory activity of the mice diverged over time, resulting in increasing individual differences with advancing age. Individual differences in cumulative roaming entropy, indicating the active coverage of territory, correlated positively with individual differences in adult hippocampal neurogenesis. The authors suggest that factors unfolding or emerging during development contribute to individual differences in structural brain plasticity and behavior. The paradigm introduced here serves as an animal model for identifying mechanisms of plasticity underlying nonshared environmental contributions to individual differences in behavior.
Freund J, Brandmaier AM, Lewejohann L, Kirste I, Kritzler M, Krüger A, Sachser N, Lindenberger U, Kempermann G: Emergence of individuality in genetically identical mice. Science 340 (6133): 756-759 (2013).