Bacteria in Brain

Bacteria can be found all over your body, and it’s no surprise that some bacteria is helpful to an organism’s body, but did you know it was helpful for your brain function too? Researchers at UCLA created a study that tested women, ages 18-55, and brain function changes with something so simple as probiotic yogurt.

For the test, women were split into three groups: 1. Women who ate probiotic foods on a regular basis, 2. Women who ate dairy products that had no probiotics, and 3. Women who ate no product. Their brain functions were tested “during a resting state and during emotion- recognition tasks,” by using an fMRI after four weeks of beginning their group’s task. The women, in all groups, were shown pictures of different faces and were to mimic the expressions. This was “to measure the affective and cognitive brain regions response to visual stimulus.”

By seeing a strong connection between the gut and the brain, the results were clear. During the emotional- recognition task, those who consumed the probiotic yogurt, were seen to have less activity “in the insula and the somatosensory cortex,” which all lead to your internal body sensations. In addition, during the resting state, women who ate the probiotic yogurt showed more connectivity amongst a brainstem region called the periaqueductal grey and areas of the prefrontal cortex, all responsible for cognition.

Dr. Kirsten Tillisch, of UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, has spoken about the study saying, “Our findings indicate that some of the contents of yogurt may actually change the way our brain responds to the environment. When we consider the implications of this work, the old sayings ‘you are what you eat’ and ‘gut feelings’ take on new meaning.”

Many doctors are saying that this very study could be beneficial to curing and treating various mental disorders. The team at UCLA hope to be able to treat brain-related diseases, like Parkinson’s and/or Alzheimer’s, with the fascinating advancement that has been made.