Bacteria affecting emotion and sensation

Posted by Streptococcus thermophilus

Can a probiotic affect the brain?

Streptococcus thermophilus is a gram positive bacteria that is usually found in fermented milk products like buttermilk, kefir, yogurt and cheese.  

Over the past several years, Streptococcus thermophilus has gone through some extensive and promising research.  Some of the research includes its properties to beneficially alter signaling mechanisms, emotional behavior and certain types of reflexes.  In early studies conducted by Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress, part of the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases, and the Ahmanson–Lovelace Brain Mapping Center at UCLA show improved brain function based on probiotic consumption.

"Many of us have a container of yogurt in our refrigerator that we may eat for enjoyment, for calcium or because we think it might help our health in other ways," said Dr. Kirsten Tillisch, an associate professor of medicine in the digestive diseases division at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine and lead author of the study. "Our findings indicate that some of the contents of yogurt may actually change the way our brain responds to the environment. When we consider the implications of this work, the old sayings 'you are what you eat' and 'gut feelings' take on new meaning."

During brain scans, researchers could see the positive affect of probiotics in many areas including sensory processing and emotion.

Potential discoveries associating beneficial bacteria show an exciting future in the path of research with solving other brain related diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Autism.


  • TILLISCH K, LABUS J, KILPATRICK L, et al. Consumption of Fermented Milk Product With Probiotic Modulates Brain Activity. Gastroenterology2013;144(7):10.1053/j.gastro.2013.02.043. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2013.02.043.

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