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Dirt Makes You Smarter?
#1 Print Post
Posted on May 26 2010 06:06 PM
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When I was a kid, my aunt always used to say to me, "God made dirt, dirt don't hurt." It turns out she was more right than she knew! I ran across this study about a type of bacteria found in soil that increases levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is linked to improved mood, decreased anxiety, and information processing.

Now researchers have shown that serotonin is also linked to improved learning in mice. Mice who were exposed to the bacteria in the soil that boosts serotonin learned how to navigate a maze twice as fast as mice who weren't exposed, and did so with less anxiety.

Here is the link to the article about the study:


What do you think about the implications this could have for dyscalculia? Anecdotally, from reading people's experiences on the site, it seems like one of the big hurdles that we dyscalculics face is test anxiety that spawns from our disability. Could spending more time outdoors, exposing ourselves to this serotonin-boosting bacteria, help decrease test anxiety, and therefore lead to improved cognition and better performance in math?

I'm not implying that it would "cure" our disability by any means, but any edge we can get when it comes to information processing would be helpful. Since serotonin is linked to both lower anxiety and better information processing, it seems like it would have a positive impact on our mathematical processing since it improves information processing overall.

Maybe instead of cramming right before a math test, we should get a shovel and go dig around in the dirt for a while.
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
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Posted on June 08 2010 12:09 AM

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Dear Kat,
When I was little my daddy used to send me outside and lock the door. I spent all day out there (and i liked it) and ate dirt, worms, grass, flowers, you name it; and I don't think it made any difference. I still have LD but manage it quite well. So maybe if I didn't eat dirt I would be less successful at managing it.
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Posted on June 09 2010 06:21 PM
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Dandy, part of what the article discusses is that the benefits of the fungus are short-term - that is, being exposed to it regularly is necessary to keep feeling the serotonin-boosting effects. If you spent a lot of time outdoors as a child it may have helped you then, but you won't still feel those benefits now unless you continue to expose yourself to the awesome, fungus-y outdoors. Smile
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
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