Gut microbes influence behavior

Mice lacking normal gut bacteria show differences in brain development and behavior

Katherine Bagley
Jan 30, 2011
Gut microbes acquired early in life can impact brain development in mice and subsequent behavior, such as decreasing physical activity and increasing anxiety, according to a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Image: Wikimedia commons, Polarqueen
"This paper opens the door to new studies in at least two directions," Yale University microbiologist linkurl:Andrew Goodman,;http://www.yale.edu/westcampus/science_inst_microbial.html who was not involved in the research, told The Scientist in an email. "First, determining how differences between complete host-associated microbial communities lead to differences in behavior, and second, exploring the contributions of microbes during specific developmental periods in the host."Gut microbiota often colonize their hosts early in life, either during pregnancy or following birth, and play an integral role in the health of developing organisms. Previous research has shown that the bacteria affect the development of liver function, the protection epithelial cells afford underlying digestive tissue, gut...
R. Diaz Heijtz, et al., "Normal gut microbiota modulates brain development and behavior," linkurl:PNAS,;http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1010529108 doi/10.1073/pnas.1010529108, 2011.