Probiotic Species: Brain Health and Cognitive Function

Recent research demonstrates probiotics may benefit brain health, including cognitive function, and prevent cognitive decline. These live microorganisms, also known as "good bugs," are defined by their health benefits for the host. Research indicates that the gut and brain are interconnected through a partnership called the gut-brain axis. Some studies have found that probiotics may help boost mood and cognitive function and lower stress. For instance, certain probiotics have been associated with improved cognitive function and mood in older adults.

There are approximately 8,000 strains of probiotics that have been identified, and research into the different strains is constantly evolving. Let's explore the strains that may contribute to our behavior and cognitive function and prevent cognitive decline.

Probiotics and Behavior

Recent research has unveiled the fascinating influence of gut microbes, modulated by probiotics, in creating "neuroactive" compounds such as serotonin, tryptophan, and GABA. These compounds play pivotal roles in human health, including cognitive function, mood regulation, and stress management. For instance, low serotonin levels have been associated with poor memory and depressed mood, highlighting the significance of these neuroactive compounds. Moreover, the impact of our gut microbiome on our risk-taking behavior and decision-making processes has been a subject of scientific interest. Intriguingly, a study revealed that individuals taking probiotics demonstrated a propensity for more calculated risks and future-focused decision-making.

Tryptophans, which serve as precursors to serotonin and melatonin, help regulate the sleep-wake cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm. On the other hand, GABA, a calming neurotransmitter, plays a crucial role in inhibiting impulses and aiding in anxiety management. Specific probiotic species or strains, such as Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum have been shown to increase serotonin levels and improve mood. Bifidobacterium longum has also exhibited the potential to balance the stress hormone cortisol and alleviate anxiety. 

Additionally, strains like Bifidobacterium lactis, Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactococcus lactis, Lactobacillus brevis LB0, Lactobacillus plantarum 299v, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Lactobacillus reuteri have been associated with GABA production, influencing focus, attention, and communication skills.

Get the latest information, tips & recipes for healthy living delivered directly to your inbox.
Your privacy is important to us.

These probiotics impact how we navigate the world and engage in social interactions. They may also play a role in stress management. The potential of probiotics to enhance behavior is a rapidly evolving area of study that holds a lot of promise.

Probiotics for Cognitive Function

Recent research has looked at the state of the gut microbiome on memory, cognitive function, and the potential to prevent cognitive decline. Studies have identified specific probiotic strains, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, which shows promise in preventing age-related memory and cognitive decline. Furthermore, a combination of strains including Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. fermentum, Bifidobacterium lactis, and B. longum has been associated with improvements in memory and learning deficits.

Throughout our lives, the composition of our microbiome is in a constant state of flux. As we age, changes in appetite, digestion, and other factors can influence cognition through this bi-directional communication pathway. Emerging evidence suggests that the gut microbiota may be related to the onset and progression of cognitive decline.

Probiotic supplementation has shown promise in improving cognitive function and mood in older adults. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial revealed that probiotics led to improvements in cognitive function and mental flexibility in healthy older adults

The Future of Probiotics and Brain Health

Psychobiotics, a term coined in 2013, represent an evolving field of study that explores how various strains of probiotics can influence brain health and be utilized to enhance it. These live microorganisms have been found to exert a significant impact on neurotransmitters, hormones, and immunity, thereby potentially influencing cognitive function and mental well-being

This evolving field holds great promise for advancing our understanding of how probiotic strains may positively influence various aspects of human health, particularly in cognitive function.

Bottom Line

More studies to identify the best strains for specific benefits are happening, and the next few years will help with cognitive and brain health in many ways. Stay tuned.

[Editor’s Note: Kyo-Dopholis has a variety of probiotics for various ages, stages, and conditions. You can learn more about them here.]

Andrea Monteagudo-Mera, Valentina Fanti, Claudia Rodriguez-Sobstel, Glenn Gibson, Anisha Wijeyesekera, Kimon-Andreas Karatzas, Bhismadev Chakrabarti, Gamma aminobutyric acid production by commercially available probiotic strains, Journal of Applied Microbiology, Volume 134, Issue 2, February 2023, lxac066,
Athari Nik Azm S, Djazayeri A, Safa M, Azami K, Ahmadvand B, Sabbaghziarani F, Sharifzadeh M, Vafa M. Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria ameliorate memory and learning deficits and oxidative stress in β-amyloid (1-42) injected rats. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2018 Jul;43(7):718-726. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2017-0648. Epub 2018 Feb 20. PMID: 29462572.
Bonfili L, Cecarini V, Gogoi O, Gong C, Cuccioloni M, Angeletti M, Rossi G, Eleuteri AM. Microbiota modulation as preventative and therapeutic approach in Alzheimer's disease. FEBS J. 2021 May;288(9):2836-2855. doi: 10.1111/febs.15571. Epub 2020 Oct 8. PMID: 32969566.
Dinan TG, Stilling RM, Stanton C, Cryan JF. Collective unconscious: how gut microbes shape human behavior. J Psychiatr Res. 2015 Apr;63:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.02.021. Epub 2015 Mar 3. PMID: 25772005.
Dantas AM, Sack AT, Bruggen E, Jiao P, Schuhmann T. The effects of probiotics on risk and time preferences. Sci Rep. 2022 Jul 15;12(1):12152. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-16251-x. PMID: 35840611; PMCID: PMC9287413.
Jenkins TA, Nguyen JC, Polglaze KE, Bertrand PP. Influence of Tryptophan and Serotonin on Mood and Cognition with a Possible Role of the Gut-Brain Axis. Nutrients. 2016 Jan 20;8(1):56. doi: 10.3390/nu8010056. PMID: 26805875; PMCID: PMC4728667.
Nanyang Liu, Di Yang, Jiahui Sun, Yapeng Li, Probiotic supplements are effective in people with cognitive impairment: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 81, Issue 9, September 2023, Pages 1091–1104,
Wallace CJK, Milev R. The effects of probiotics on depressive symptoms in humans: a systematic review. Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2017 Feb 20;16:14. doi: 10.1186/s12991-017-0138-2. Erratum in: Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2017 Mar 7;16:18. PMID: 28239408; PMCID: PMC5319175.
Leave a Comment

Lisa Roth Collins, RHN
Lisa Roth Collins is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) and is the Marketing Manager at She is passionate about health and wellness and tries her best to make healthier choices every day for herself and her family. Her journey to natural health was driven by her own struggles with digestive discomfort, depression, and anxiety. Lisa returned to school in 2014 to study nutrition at the Canadian School for Natural Nutrition. She threw herself into her studies so she could learn as much as she could to help herself feel better and thrive. Upon completing the program and being certified as an RHN, Lisa began her work at Naturally Savvy where she has been able to help so many people learn to make healthier choices for themselves. Through her work, she has connected with so many incredible people in the industry whether other authors, influencers, or brands. Plus, she is affectionately known as "Techie Spice" because of her ability to wrap her head around technology. Every day she gets up with a renewed sense of energy and ready to make a difference. You can read all of Lisa's content here. In her spare time, Lisa loves to try new recipes, make delicious and nourishing meals, and she is an avid reader. For more information about Lisa, check out her profile on here.