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The Blog of Dr. Ann Conn

Jun5

Probiotics Affect Brain Activity

6/5/2013 12:42 pm
Posted by Dr. Ann Conn

A new study revealed that women who frequently consumed probiotic yogurt had changes in the brain regions that are associated with emotional processing seen by functional MRI.  Lead investigator, Kirsten Tillisch, MD of  UCLA’s Geffen School of Medicine, observed the “interaction between a probiotic and the brain in humans.”  Larger studies with different design will help evaluate the effects of the brain activity alterations.   Dr. Tillisch hopes to study irritable bowel and anxiety and the relationship to probiotics.

Prior studies had established the relationship of gut microbiota influencing brain and behavior in mice.  The is the first study to establish the relationship in humans.  Dr. Cryan of University College Cork, a leading reseacher in the field, stated, “this gives credence to the idea that we may eventually modulate brain function in disease states using probiotics.”

Only 36 women with no psychiatric or GI issues were evaluated.  It demonstrates an effect of probiotic ingestion on brain responses and resting state brain activity in these women.  The associated signaling pathway is yet to be determined.  These pathways are potential targets for patients with abnormal pain and stress responses.  We are continuously evaluating new way of approaching and treating patients at our northshore pain clinic.

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