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Brain & Nature Roundup

June 11, 2010

Playing outside can be good for kids’ self-esteem.


Brain-boosting bacteria. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Parents who urge their kids to play outside can now cite scientific studies to make their case. Researchers at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom looked at the results of ten different studies involving over 1200 subjects and they found that just five minutes of walking, biking, fishing or other activity in a natural environment significantly improved mood and self-esteem.

In another study, researchers at The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York found that a soil bacterium called Mycobacterium vaccae made lab mice smarter. The researchers added the bacterium to the mice’s food and found that they were significantly better at learning to run a complex maze than were mice not fed the bacterium. The researchers say that people are most likely to be exposed to this microbe while gardening or engaging in other outdoor activities. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.