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Mental Microbes

May 16, 2018

Growing up on a farm could help protect people from certain disorders.



Microbes and mental health. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

People who grew up with farm animals tend to show less inflammation in response to mental stress than do people who grew up in cities. This according to Ulm University researcher Stefan Reber and his colleagues, writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Reber says chronic inflammation can lead to depression and other psychological disorders, and he believes microbes we pick up from animals modify our immune systems and make them more resilient.

STEFAN REBER (Ulm University, Germany):

People that live in rural environments, they show a lower prevalence for depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, so for mood disorders in general, and of course, they also show a lower prevalence for asthma and allergic diseases.


Follow-up work looks more closely at how these microorganisms reduce chronic inflammation, and how that can affect not only our lungs, but our brains as well. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon