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Researchers suggest playing in dirt makes you smarter, healthier staff report

Albany Times Union

According to a story in the Albany Times Union, playing in the dirt might actually make you smarter and healthier. Two researchers at The Sage Colleges recently got a $10,000 grant from a Capital Region science foundation to support their study of a particular bacteria found in soil shown to have natural brain-boosting effects.

The grant from The Bender Scientific Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region will support work by professors Susan Jenks and Dorothy Matthews into Mycobacterium vaccae, a strain of bacteria that occurs naturally in soil, and that was first scientifically isolated in cow dung.

Earlier research by the pair has found that mice who were fed bacteria-laden peanut butter snacks were much better able to navigate mazes than mice that did not eat the bacteria.

”The mechanism of this effect is likely an immune system reaction to the bacterium, which then stimulates the production of a neurotransmitter, serotonin,” said Jenks. ”Serotonin is important in calming anxiety and produces positive effects on general emotional well-being.”

Read the full article here.


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