Volume 8 Issue 4

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Page 20 of 35 | # 44 | Page 21 "The rela onship between people and pathogens … could have directly affected the development of our social behavior, allowing us to engage in the social interac ons necessary for the survival of the species while developing ways for our immune systems to protect us from the diseases that accompany those interac ons. Social behavior is, of course, in the interest of pathogens, as it allows them to spread." The immune molecule iden fied as a "cri cal" player in social behavior is known as interferon gamma (G), a cytokine normally produced by your immune system in response to pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and parasites. In your brain, interferon G inhibits neurons in your prefrontal cortex. This is normal and healthy. Without interferon G suppressing these neurons, your prefrontal cortex can go into overdrive, as it did in the mice in this study. When the researchers blocked interferon G in their brains, the mice became hyperac ve and less social. Social Interactions and Spread of Pathogens As for why the same molecule responsible for normal social behavior would also be triggered by pathogens — which suggests that pathogens would be more easily spread between people — the researchers can only speculate. As reported by The Atlan c: "'We were really fascinated by why this an pathogen molecule would have a prosocial func on — that doesn't really make sense,' says Anthony Filiano, [Ph.D.]… lead author on the study… Gathering in groups makes diseases more likely to spread. Why, evolu onarily speaking, is that something the immune system would want to promote? 'Naturally if individuals tend to spread diseases, that could easily result in ex nc on of the whole colony,' [co-author Vladimir Litvak [Ph.D.] says. 'So you have to have a very strong immune response.' Maybe the immune system ac vates when animals are socializing to protect them against the increased risk of ge ng a disease." While en rely specula ve, I'd propose another poten al mechanism. Your body contains 10 mes more bacteria than it does cells, plus viruses, which in turn outnumber the bacteria 10 to 1. You are in a sense a walking, talking mass of microorganisms, and these organisms are involved in a wide range of biological and biochemical regulatory func ons. It has previously been suggested that human evolu on may in part have been driven by the introduc on of new pathogens (and/or beneficial microorganisms) into our system, and this research appears to support the idea that we may be "programmed" to share pathogens with others in our group to spread immunity. So rather than outright defending against disease, it may be that by sharing disease the people in the group and subsequent genera ons build stronger immunity or immune system defenses and/or incorporate new, important microbes into our biology. The Importance of a Healthy Gut Microbiome As men oned, the microorganisms residing in your gut — collec vely known as your gut Microbiome — preside over a wide array of biological func ons and are closely interconnected with both your brain and your immune system. For example, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found they could alter the brain func on and mood • NON-GMO CHICKEN • • ORGANIC TURKEY • • VEGETARIAN & VEGAN RAW • • WILD CAUGHT SEAFOOD • • Customize Your Meal! • DON'T FORGET THE SWEET TREATS 14374 N. Dale Mabry Hwy. Tampa, FL 33618 (over 30 personalized healthy meals available) Personalized Meals Personalized Meals 813-265-4951

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