Rich with Meaning

Language shapes the way we think. For this reason the precise choice of words is as important in science as in any other field of scholarly endeavor. The use of "enrichment" to describe more complex housing environments for laboratory animals1 is misleading. A better term might be "naturalized".

The continued use of enrichment in describing environments that provide some improved attempt to offer artificial equivalents of the range of stimuli and experiences an animal might reasonably expect to encounter in the wild only feeds the misrepresentation that children's lives must be cluttered with enrichment lest their brains be irrevocably damaged. Maybe it's time to stop enriching the vocabulary we use when describing cages with running wheels and scattered food pellets.

Susan M. Fitzpatrick, PhD
Vice President
James S. McDonnell Foundation
St. Louis, Mo.

1. H. Cohen, "Creature comforts," The Scientist, 17[9]:22, May 5, 2003....

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