The Microbiome and the Mind

Speaker: K. Tillisch Presented at: 2015 The New York Academy of Sciences


It is increasingly evident that bidirectional communication between the gastrointestinal microbiota and the brain occurs and plays a role in health and disease. Diseases as diverse as obesity, autism, and anxiety have been linked to the microbiota in preclinical models. Further, both human and animal studies have shown that modulation of the microbiota with probiotics or antibiotics can change aspects of behavior or brain function. As humans age, there is a decrease in the diversity of the gut microbiota, and a decline in the bacterial species often considered to be beneficial. It has been hypothesized that this change may be associated with cognitive decline, mood alterations, and neurological disease. In this presentation, I will review the scientific basis of microbiome-brain interactions, the preclinical and clinical data that support a role for the microbiota in brain function, and the role of probiotics as potential therapeutic agents for healthy aging.