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Mind-altering microbes: how bacteria affect brain and behavior: Elaine Hsiao

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Bacteria, more commonly referred to as "germs" or "bugs", are far more influential in our overall health than we realize. We tend to focus on the negative nature of infectious germs, but there are many others that actually bolster our health. Dr. Hsiao presents the positive implications gleaned from her research which suggest that our survival is far more in debted to microbes than we know.

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
The NIH Human Microbiome Project began in 2005 with the goal of characterizing microbial communities found in humans and finding correlations between microbiomes and human health. Find out more about gastrointestinal bacteria's coevolution with humans and their link to autoimmune disorders in Our Microbes, Ourselves and The Human Microbiome. Approaching the human body as a landscape of ecosystems is helping us to understand the relationship with our microbiome and how it contributes to our health and predisposition to illnesses. Learn more in Tending the Body's Microbial Garden. New studies find a correlation between autism and microbiome health. Read more about vagus nerve anatomy and existing non-microbially related medical treatments involving vagus nerve stimulation. Dr. Hsiao is a postdoctoral fellow in The Patterson Lab at Caltech which is interested in neurobiology - primarily on interactions between the nervous system and immunity. Microbe diversity within gut has also been linked to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Here is a gallery of microbes in our lives.
“You could also ask who’s in charge. Lots of people think, well, we’re humans; we’re the most intelligent and accomplished species; we’re in charge. Bacteria may have a different outlook; more bacteria live and work in one linear centimeter of your lower colon than all the humans who have ever lived. That’s what’s going on in your digestive tract right now. Are we in charge, or are we simply hosts for bacteria? It all depends on your outlook.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier
Avatar for Josephine Skwish
Josephine Skwish
Lesson Creator
East Brunswick, NJ, United States
Given the recent revelation of the our reliance on microbes for brain health and immune function, how might the usage of antimicrobial agents, e.g. germicides and antibiotics, be reconsidered? What alternative strategies or guidelines could be followed?
08/22/2013 • 
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