More Evidence of the Importance of the Gut's Microbiota on Health, the Brain, the Whole Nine Yards

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Tinkering with Gut Microbes Boosts Brain Plasticity in Mice … JAN 13

"Paola Tognini, a neuroscientist at the University of Pisa and lead author of the new study, writes in an email to The Scientist that she “wondered if endogenous factors (signals coming from inside our body instead of the external world), such as the signals coming from the intestine, could also influence brain plasticity.”

The study “provides very interesting new insights into possible beneficial effects of environmental enrichment on the brain that might act via the gut,” writes Anthony Hannan, a neuroscientist at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health in Australia who was not involved in the study, in an email to The Scientist. “This new study has implications for how we might understand the beneficial effects of environmental enrichment, and its relevance to cognitive training and physical activity interventions in humans.”

When the researchers transferred feces, with their associated microbes, from donor mice living in an enriched environment to mice living in standard housing, they found that doing so “made the recipient mice plastic even if they did not experience the enriched environment,” Tognini explains.

Despite (the study’s) limitations, “this present study provides further important evidence that environmental enrichment might act on the brain at least partly via the gut and associated microbiota.”