Environmental enrichment is used by zoo keepers to promote the welfare and quality of life for the animals they look after. This involves finding ways to stimulate both cognitive and physical activity, through games and puzzles. This is the best animal approximation we have for education in human subjects. Alena Savonenko and her research team at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Maryland used environmental enrichment to investigate the link between enhanced mental activity during puzzle solving, and improvements in dementia using mice with Alzheimer’s disease. First, they tested a mouse’s memory recall in a ‘Morris’ water maze, in which the mouse, keen to keep its head above water, has to navigate to find a submerged refuge platform. A second test investigated how shock can have an impact on memory: show a mouse an unusual object at the same time as making a loud noise, and it freezes in fright. If the mouse has an increased capacity for learning, subsequent exposure to the object is enough to provoke a fear response. Alzheimer’s mice kept in enriched environments performed better in both memory tests, supporting the idea that cognitive stimulation slows decline due to Alzheimer’s.