Play in the dirt to boost your IQ

On May 24, researchers presented new findings linking ability to learn and relax to dirt at the American Society for Microbiology ‘s 110th General Meeting in San Diego.


 

Dorothy Matthews, PhD, biology professor at The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York and Susan Jenks, PhD, associate professor of biology and psychology at The Sage Colleges conducted a series of research studies, initially finding that Mycobacterium vaccae (M. vaccae), "a natural soil bacterium which people likely ingest or breathe in when they spend time in nature," in an animal study "resulted in increased levels of serotonin and decreased anxiety."

Matthews then became curious to test if M. vaccae could impact learning based on increased levels of serotonin so the researchers monitored two groups of mice, one after ingesting the "live bacteria" and the other not exposed to M. vaccae, maneuver a maze immediately.

"We found that mice that were fed live M. vaccae navigated the maze twice as fast and with less demonstrated anxiety behaviors as control mice," said Matthews. However the benefits proved not be long-lasting after monitoring the same mice run the maze without being given additional bacteria hours later and then three-weeks later.

Matthews concluded, "This research suggests that M. vaccae may play a role in anxiety and learning in mammals," adding that it could be interesting to consider "creating learning environments in schools that include time in the outdoors where M. vaccae is present" to possibly "decrease anxiety and improve the ability to learn new tasks."

Until urban schools start trucking in country soil, this is just another reason to start a family garden, even if it is a series of window boxes. There have also been studies showing M. vaccae can help wash the blues away - maybe a new project for Harvard professor David Edwards, who could create a new flavor: Le Whif dirt, a lipstick-shaped inhaler that would delivers tiny sprinkles of a breathable dirt like he has with chocolate and coffee.

For more information on the American Society for Microbiology ‘s 110th General Meeting, visit: http://gm.asm.org

News
Courtney Love has admitted using heroin while pregnant with Frances Bean Cobain, her daughter with Kurt Cobain
people
Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Extras
indybest
News
Joel Grey, now 82, won several awards for his role in Cabaret
people
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Sport
Harry Kane celebrates scoring the opening goal for Spurs
footballLive: All the latest transfer news as deadline day looms
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Business Support Administrator - Part Time

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the South West'...

    Recruitment Genius: Secretary

    £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This major European Intellectual Propert...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher

    £130 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher Jan 2015 - July...

    Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - 9-12 Months

    £14500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Accounts Assistant is immedi...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness