Gut Bacteria Alters Your Brain Chemistry

The role of gut bacteria may extend beyond the stomach and intestines all the way to the brain. In a new study, disrupting the normal gut flora of mice leads to changes in the animals' behavior.

What's the Latest Development?


Published in the journal Gastroenterology, a study on the relationship between gut bacteria and brain chemistry in mice has found the two are related in surprising ways. Disrupting the normal gut flora of the mice led to a change in the animals' behavior, making them less timid and more adventurous, as well as leading to changes in their brain chemistry. "'It may be that those changes in gut bacteria not only contribute to the generation of gut symptoms, like diarrhea or pain, but may also contribute to this altered behavior that we see in those patients,” said researcher Stephen Collins, of the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada."

What's the Big Idea?

If the physiological behavior of the mice turns out to be similar to that of humans, the research could explain why some gastrointestinal diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome, are often associated with disorders that can affect behavior, including depression and anxiety. "If gut bacteria play some role in human behavior as well, it's possible therapies that aim to restore normal gut flora, such as probiotics, may be helpful in correcting behavior and mood changes in those with gastrointestinal diseases, Collins said."


Related Articles

Human skeletal stem cells isolated in breakthrough discovery

It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.

Image: Nissim Benvenisty
Surprising Science
  • Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
  • These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
  • The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Keep reading Show less

How exercise helps your gut bacteria

Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.

National Institutes of Health
Surprising Science
  • Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
  • Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
  • Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
Keep reading Show less

Giving octopuses ecstasy reveals surprising link to humans

A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.

Image: damn_unique via Flickr
Surprising Science
  • Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
  • Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
  • Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
Keep reading Show less