Can Bacteria Make You Smarter?

Escherichia ColiFrom Science Daily:

Exposure to specific bacteria in the environment, already believed to have antidepressant qualities, could increase learning behavior, according to research presented at the 110th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in San Diego.

“Mycobacterium vaccae is a natural soil bacterium which people likely ingest or breath in when they spend time in nature,” says Dorothy Matthews of The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York, who conducted the research with her colleague Susan Jenks.

Previous research studies on M. vaccae showed that heat-killed bacteria injected into mice stimulated growth of some neurons in the brain that resulted in increased levels of serotonin and decreased anxiety.

“Since serotonin plays a role in learning we wondered if live M. vaccae could improve learning in mice,” says Matthews.

Matthews and Jenks fed live bacteria to mice and assessed their ability to navigate a maze compared to control mice that were not fed the bacteria.

“We found that mice that were fed live M. vaccae navigated the maze twice as fast and with less demonstrated anxiety behaviors as control mice,” says Matthews.

In a second experiment the bacteria were removed from the diet of the experimental mice and they were retested. While the mice ran the maze slower than they did when they were ingesting the bacteria, on average they were still faster than the controls…

[continues at Science Daily]

4 Comments on "Can Bacteria Make You Smarter?"

  1. Sounds interesting…Perhaps they should add that of few of those bacteria into vitamin pills, and pro-biotic drinks.

  2. Interesting. Glad to see the emotional and spiritual upliftment created by being in nature can have additional benefits. I'm equally amazed by the fact that I grew up within minutes of Sage College and never thought of it as anything more than a second tier liberal arts college. Good to see them making some headlines.

  3. yogurt does too!

  4. yogurt does too!

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