Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Microbes can play mind games

Alexandra Mangano
Staff Writer

Twenty two men took the same capsule pill for four weeks. After interviews were conducted, the test subjects reported less stress and sharper memory.
  The results, though subtle, gained attention of the Society of Neuroscience. The pill was not synthesized in a lab, and it was filled with bacteria.
  The bacteria that the pills consist of can be found in things like yogurt and hand sanitizer. Bacteria that is usually dreaded is now becoming a hero concerning health. This bacteria may be changing our minds: literally.
  There has been recent studies about how bacteria in the gut may alter how the brain works. Scientists have changed the behavior of lab animals by tinkering with the bacteria in their gut.
  Once timid mice now became bold and outgoing. Rats were injected with bacteria from clinically depressed people, and showed signs of depression themselves. The right bacteria can improve the brain.
  However, there has been some concern about the wrong bacteria negatively affecting the brain.
  Studies about the correlation between bacteria and the brain is fairly revolutionary. In May 2000, parts of Canada experienced a flood. The flood caused the city’s water supply to be overrun with two dangerous strains of bacteria: Escherichia coli and Campylobacter.
  Only a handful of people died but around half of the city became ill. The illness was short lived.
  However, years later, scientists following the city’s health found that the rates of depression were significantly higher after the illness came across the region. It is suspected that the infection caused the depression.
  Professor of Psychiatry at University College Cork Ted Dinan said that he suspects there’s something specific about an off-kilter microbiome that can harm mental health.
  This possibility holds true regarding lab animals.
  Lab mice born and raised without bacteria behave in bizarre ways. They exhibit antisocial behavior, memory loss, and recklessness.
  This study made scientists want to broaden their research to human beings, and they are now heavily engaged in this research and hop
e to find an important use for it in the near future.
    Neuroscientist John Cryan said, “It’s all slightly weird but also fascinating.”

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