Scientists from the UK and Italy have found fecal transplants from old mice to young mice result in the younger animals displaying learning and memory impairments. The findings build on a growing body of research linking age-related cognitive decline with gut microbiome changes.
“Research has shown that the aging process may be linked with age-related changes in our gut microbiota,” says David Vauzour, co-senior author on the new study. “Recently, the existence of two-way communication between the gut and the brain – known as the ‘gut-brain axis’ – has emerged as an important player in shaping aspects of behavior and cognitive function.”
Research has uncovered a number of intriguing links between the gut microbiome and the brain. Depression, memory and even personality traits have all been found to be somewhat associated with our gut bacteria.
However, the causal relationship between the microbiome and the brain is still deeply unclear. We do know that changes in the brain can influence changes in the microbiome. Experiments inducing strokes in mice, for example, were found to subsequently alter bacterial populations in the gut.