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"The impairment of cognitive flexibility in this study was pretty strong," Magnusson said. "Think about driving home on a route that's very familiar to you, something you're used to doing. Then one day that road is closed and you suddenly have to find a new way home... A person with high levels of cognitive flexibility would immediately adapt to the change, determine the next best route home, and remember to use the same route the following morning, all with little problem. With impaired flexibility, it might be a long, slow, and stressful way home.
The research was done with laboratory mice that consumed different diets and then faced a variety of tests, such as water maze testing.
The authors of the study believe the gut bacteria are releasing compounds that do a couple of things: they function as neurotransmitters (mess with cognition/mood), affect sensory processing (increase pain) and the immune system ( produce fatigue/pain/flu-likes symptoms).
"It's increasingly clear that our gut bacteria, or microbiota, can communicate with the human brain," said Kathy Magnusson, a professor in the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine and principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute.
"Bacteria can release compounds that act as neurotransmitters, stimulate sensory nerves or the immune system, and affect a wide range of biological functions," she said. "We're not sure just what messages are being sent, but we are tracking down the pathways and the effects."
In this research, after just four weeks on a high-fat or a high-sugar diet, the performance of mice on various tests of mental and physical function began to drop, compared to animals on a normal diet. One of the most pronounced changes was in what researchers call cognitive flexibility.
Learn more here: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/thousands-of-teenage-girls-enduring-debilitating-illnesses-after-routine-school-cancer-vaccination-10286876.html