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    Gut Psychology

    Exploring the Gut-Brain Connection

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    The Human Microbiome

    The Human Microbiome

    The invisible universe inside you

    The Vagus Nerve

    The Vagus Nerve

    A key nexus of mind and body, and a biological building block of human compassion.

    Mind-altering microbes

    Mind-altering microbes

    How the microbiome affects brain and behavior

     

    Featured Video: Digestive System

    The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract—also called the digestive tract—and the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus. The hollow organs that make up the GI tract are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine—which includes the rectum—and anus. Food enters the mouth and passes to the anus through the hollow organs of the GI tract. The liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are the solid organs of the digestive system. The digestive system helps the body digest food

    The Digestive System

    Paul Andersen starts with a brief description of feeding methods. He then details all of the major parts within the human digestive system. This tour starts in the mouth, move down the esophagus, through the stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum. He explains how all of the major macromolecules are digested and absorbed by the body.

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    Adventures in the Science of the Superorganism

    The Human Superorganism: It is a fact that a woman was threatened by Protective Services to take the child she conceived and delivered naturally because the results of a maternity test showed that the child she gave birth to was not hers.  In December 2002, twenty-one year old Lydia Kay Fairchild received a phone call from the State Prosecutors Office.  It was a difficult time financially for Lydia.  She was unable to provide for herself and her kids.  Lydia applied for state financial aid to make ends meet.  As a condition to the state’s support for her and her three children, Lydia’s boyfriend needed to be identified as the father.  The blood-sample DNA test came back proving that Lydia’s boyfriend was the father of her three children, but Lydia Kay Fairchild was not the mother.  You can only imagine how she felt, not to mention the questions that must have ran through her mind during the whole ordeal.  How could this happen?

    Anything seems possible in the science of the human superorgansim.  As it turns out, Lydia Fairchild had three children.  All three of her children’s genes belong to her boyfriend and her sister.  Here’s where it gets weird; the eggs that Lydia was carrying around all her life belonged to her unborn “parasitic” twin.  Today, the term used is “chimerism.”  Lydia’s blood contains her DNA, but her reproductive organs have the DNA of her unborn sister.  Lydia absorbed her sibling when Lydia was being formed in her mother’s womb.  While this is more likely to happen where in vitro fertilization is involved, due to a greater probably of error, Lydia’s blood reflected her own DNA, but other aspects of Lydia’s body (such as her thyroid and reproductive organs) still belonged to her “vanishing twin.”  Lydia was able to prove that she was the mother of her children when the courts found out that Lydia’s thyroid also contained her sister’s DNA.  She was able to keep her three children and the state resumed to provide her with financial support.

    We are a superorgansim.  The human microbiome is comprised of over 100 trillion microbes.  Although most of these organisms live in our gut, they live throughout our bodies as well.  The microbiome is comprised of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, foreign human cells, imprinted genes, and viruses.  These organisms communicate with each other.  This is all part of the human superorgansim. As you can imagine, living organisms fight for their own survival and sometimes things get mixed-up.

    If you think chimerism is rare, think again.  Kramer and Bressan (2015) have written summaries and analyses of previously completed research of genetic abnormalities, like the one that affected Lydia Kay Fairchild.

    Read more about superorganisms in Kramer and Bressan’s journal article How Microbes, Viruses, Imprinted Genes, and Other Selfish Entities Shape Our Behavior. Perspectives on Psychological Science-2015-Kramer-464-81 (1)

    Superorganism

    References:

    Peter Kramer, & Paola Bressan. (2015). Humans as superorganisms : how microbes, viruses, imprinted genes, and other selfish entities shape our behavior. Perspectives On Psychological Science10(4), 464-481. doi:10.1177/1745691615583131

    Wallace, W. (2015, October 8). Science of us: Adventures in the science of the superorganism. New York News & Politics. Retrieved from http://nymag.com/tags/gut-brains/

    Humans as Superorganisms How Microbes, Viruses, Imprinted Genes, and Other Selfish Entities Shape Our Behavior

    green_bacteria2

    The gastrointestinal tract contains and estimated 500 million neurons. The gut microbiota and the brain communicate with each other affecting neural, endocrine and immune systems.

    Science is waking-up to find that gut microbes, viruses, imprinted genes, and other self-serving entities affect brain and behavior.

    “We are not unitary individuals but superorganisms, built out of both human and nonhuman elements; it is their interaction that determines who we are” (Kramer & Bressan, 2015).

     

    Humans as Superorganisms

    Department of General Psychology, University of Padua, Italy Peter Kramer, Dipartimento di Psicologia Generale, Università di Padova, Via Venezia 8, 35131 Padova, Italy E-mail: peter.kramer{at}unipd.it Psychologists and psychiatrists tend to be little aware that (a) microbes in our brains and guts are capable of altering our behavior; (b) viral DNA

    Superorganisms

    “Psychologists and psychiatrists tend to be little aware that (a) microbes in our brains and guts are capable of altering our behavior” (Kramer & Bressan, 2015).

    Reference:

    Peter Kramer, & Paola Bressan. (2015). Humans as Superorganisms : How microbes, viruses, imprinted genes, and other selfish entities shape our behavior. Perspectives On Psychological Science, 10(4), 464-481. doi:10.1177/1745691615583131

    Antibiotics & Your Kid’s Microbiome

    Parents are often concerned about their kid’s health needs, and they have a good reason to investigate how antibiotics play a role. A parents first response when their child gets sick may be to run to the doctor and get a prescription. However, they should consider antibiotics long-term effects on a kid’s gut microbiome before filling that new prescription. Recent research sheds light into two groups of kids immune systems. One group of kids findings show how their immune system later on in life seemed to respond to taking macrolide antibiotics, and how the other group of kids immune system that did not take antibiotics, developed later on in life.

    Macrolide antibiotics may change kid’s natural gut microbes. Altering children’s natural gut microbes may be harmful in the long-run. The potential negative long-term effects can make them vulnerable to asthma and obesity.

    A study conducted on 142 children between the ages of 2 and 7 provided some insight into how antibiotics may alter children’s natural gut microbes. One group of children did not receive antibiotics for over two years. These children, the ones that did not receive antibiotics, showed a much more diverse variety of microbes that seem to show stronger, healthier immune systems that helped prevent chronic disease later in life.

    What about the children who took the antibiotics? These children’s immune system seemed to struggle in developing stronger immunity as time passed. The destruction of beneficial bacteria due to the use of macolide antibiotics seemed to compromise the immune systems natural process of combating chronic disease. “There was a positive correlation between overall lifetime antibiotic use and body mass index (BMI), as well as an increased risk of asthma” (Korpela et al., 2016).

    Researchers believe that kids who had taken macrolide antibiotics–ones that are often used to treat bacterial infections–likely experienced a greater destruction of their natural gut microbes that they need and become more apparent later on in life. more recent findings published in Gastroenterology , concluded that children were at greater risk of childhood obesity if more than three courses antibiotics were introduced before the age of 2.

    While it may be easier to get a prescription for antibiotics to get your kids back on track in the short-term parents should consult their physician, and ask questions to make sure they are getting all the facts.

    Antibiotics PIC

     

    Antibiotics & Your Kid’s Microbiome

    References:

    Korpela, Katri, Anne Salonen, Lauri J. Virta, Riina A. Kekkonen, Kristoffer Forslund, Peer Bork, and Willem M. De Vos. “Intestinal microbiome is related to lifetime antibiotic use in finnish pre-school children.” Nature Communications Nat Comms 7 (2016): doi: 10.1038/ncomms10410

    Scott, Frank I. Horton, Daniel B. Mamtani,Ronac,  Haynes,Kevin, Goldberg,David S. Lee,Dale Y. and Lewis, James D. Administration of antibiotics to children before age 2 years increases risk for childhood obesity. Gastroenterology , Volume 151 , Issue 1 , 120 – 129.e5: doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2016.03.006

    Wachter, H. (2016, March). Antibiotics & your kid’s microbiome, Experiance Life. Retrieved from experiencelife.com/article/antibiotic-use-may-predispose-kids-to-obesity-and-asthma/

    The Digestive System

    The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract—also called the digestive tract—and the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus. The hollow organs that make up the GI tract are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine—which includes the rectum—and anus. Food enters the mouth and passes to the anus through the hollow organs of the GI tract. The liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are the solid organs of the digestive system. The digestive system helps the body digest food

    The Digestive System

    Paul Andersen starts with a brief description of feeding methods. He then details all of the major parts within the human digestive system. This tour starts in the mouth, move down the esophagus, through the stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum. He explains how all of the major macromolecules are digested and absorbed by the body.

    See More Videos

    Homni: The New Superorganism Engulfing the Earth

    Homni: The new superorganism taking over Earth

    A new ‘species’ has emerged only in recent decades, says Gaia Vince, yet it is already having a huge effect on life on our planet. What is it?

    Dr. Eric Schoomaker discusses research collaboration between NIH and the VA

    Watch as Dr. Eric Schoomaker discusses research collaborations.

    Dr. Eric Schoomaker discusses research collaboration between NIH and the VA (full interview)

    Dr. Schoomaker discusses a new collaboration between NIH and the VA. Thirteen research projects totaling approximately $21.7 million over 5 years will explore nondrug approaches to managing pain and related health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), drug abuse, and sleep issues.

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