Certain Gut Microbes Could Influence Cognitive Development In Infants, Study Shows

In Education

A recent study conducted by Sebastian Hunter and his colleagues from the University of British Columbia, Canada, revealed a connection between specific gut microbes in infants and their performance in early cognitive development assessments. The results, published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, suggest a potential relationship between gut microbiota and cognitive development in babies.

Gut microbiome linked to brain development in infants

There is growing evidence emphasizing the links between the human gut microbiome and overall health, including brain health. Although several studies have indicated connections between the microbiome and early brain development in both animals and humans, limited research has explored the potential correlation between variations in infants’ microbiomes and differences in their cognitive development.

In the study, researchers analyzed data from 56 infants between four and six months. The infants had undergone evaluations of cognitive abilities and their gut microbiomes were assessed using fecal samples.

Study findings indicated that infants who performed well in a social attention test called “point and gaze,” which measures the ability to share focus on an object with someone else, tended to exhibit higher levels of microbes from the Actinobacteria phylum, Bifidobacterium genus, and Eggerthella genus. On the other hand, they had lower levels of microbes from the Firmicutes phylum, Hungatella genus, and Streptococcus genus.

Brain activity in infants connected to different levels of microbes

Interestingly, electroencephalogram measures of the brain activity of the infants in response to improved rhythmic processing demonstrated a connection to varying levels of certain microbes and related metabolic reactions. However, no connections were observed between the microbiome and brain blood flow when exposed to normal and reversed human speech recordings.

In general, these results align with the notion that the microbiome could potentially impact initial cognitive development. However, further investigation is necessary to validate and elucidate this function.

Authors concluded that in their small pilot study they noted interesting connections between brain activity and gut microbiome in the early stages of infancy. However further replication and studies are necessary to offer more insights regarding how microbiome contributes to cognitive development.

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