A new study finds that naturally occurring bacteria in soil could enhance learning. And as a side benefit, it appears to be a natural anti-anxiety drug, but without the side-effects.
In studies presented Monday at the 110th general meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in San Diego, mice exposed to Mycobacterium vaccae navigated a maze twice as fast, and with less anxiety, as control mice.
In a second experiment the bacteria were removed from the diet of the experimental mice and they were retested. While the mice ran the maze slower than they did when they were ingesting the bacteria, on average they were still faster than the controls.
"The learning that occurred was profound," said Dorothy Matthews of The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York, who conducted the research with her colleague Susan Jenks.
Matthews said it's interesting to speculate that creating learning environments in schools that include time outside where M. vaccae is present may decrease anxiety and improve the ability to learn new tasks.
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.