Memory and Microbes

A study published in the journal Gut Microbiota proved a connection between the microbiome and cognitive performance [1]. They infected mice with a "non-invasive" pathogen (meaning it can only infect the gut but not other parts of the body) and checked for the memory capabilities in the mice.
The pathogen basically induces a dysbiosis (an imbalance of the microbiome) in the intestines. Therefore, the researchers were expecting to see a connection between a disrupted microbiome and memory function.


Half of the infected mice received a probiotic supplement, containing two different strains of Lactobacilli, while the other half only received a placebo. To test their cognitive function, the mice were placed into a maze to test their spatial memory. The group of mice with a dysbiosis, exhibited memory dysfunctions, which was prevented by daily treatment of infected mice with probiotics.
The researchers conclude that:
1. Probiotics could attenuate behavioral abnormalities in patients with a disturbed microbiome.
2. The microbiome can influence also cognitive functions such as memory.

 

Mice treated with probiotics had normal ability to discriminate the novel object, as indicated by a high exploration ratio [10].

Mice treated with probiotics had normal ability to discriminate the novel object, as indicated by a high exploration ratio [10].

References

1.  Gareau et al., Bacterial infection causes stress-induced memory dysfunction in mice, Gut Microbiota, 2014