Gut Bacteria Might Guide The Workings Of Our Minds : NPR

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Gut Feeling

gut feelingDo you know people who just seem to have a knack for sensing something? They have a “gut feeling” that defies logic but turns out to be right more often than not? Perhaps the “gut feeling” warns them about a fraudulent potential business partner or a bad house choice or to miss a disastrous meeting. Mom, Nancy, is the queen of “gut feelings” and there may be an explanation.

Could the microbes that inhabit our guts help explain that old idea of “gut feelings?” There’s growing evidence that gut bacteria really might influence our minds.

“I’m always by profession a skeptic,” says Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. “But I do believe that our gut microbes affect what goes on in our brains.”

Mayer thinks the bacteria in our digestive systems may help mold brain structure as we’re growing up, and possibly influence our moods, behavior and feelings when we’re adults. “It opens up a completely new way of looking at brain function and health and disease,” he says.

So Mayer is working on just that, doing MRI scans to look at the brains of thousands of volunteers and then comparing brain structure to the types of bacteria in their guts. He thinks he already has the first clues of a connection, from an analysis of about 60 volunteers.

Mayer found that the connections between brain regions differed depending on which species of bacteria dominated a person’s gut. That suggests that the specific mix of microbes in our guts might help determine what kinds of brains we have — how our brain circuits develop and how they’re wired.

To read the entire article please see: Gut Bacteria Might Guide The Workings Of Our Minds : Shots – Health News : NPR

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