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PNNL scientists find link between gut bacteria and memory

PNNL MEMORY.JPG

RICHLAND, Wash - Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, stumbled across a significant discovery linking microbes in your gut to memory function.

Dr. Janet Jansson and her team of researchers discovered the surprising link between bacteria or microbes in the gut and memory. "Honestly we were very surprised to see that there was that strong link. We tested a lot of different behaviors, but that is the one that was strongly linked to one microorganism," says Dr. Jansson.

In lab tests, mice given the probiotic Lactobacillus, found in yogurt and many probiotic supplements, did significantly better in memory tests, than mice without the probiotic.

The research now needs to be tested in humans, but Jannsen says it could lead to future treatments to improve memory or treat memory loss. "In the best case scenario if we find a specific organism or metabolite that is causing this response and can prove that in clinical trials in humans, that would be the best case scenario," says Dr. Jansson.

She points out that humans are not mice, and no word on when human clinical trials may start. So in the meantime, should you run out and buy probiotics to improve and retain your memory? "I was never a huge fan of the probiotic field until I saw these results, then I thought wait, maybe there is something to this," says Jansson.

She says it's really too soon to tell if probiotics will improve human memory, but Dr. Jansson says the experiment on the mice was performed repeatedly, and each time, the mice given the probiotic performed significantly better on memory tests than the mice without it.

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