How Microbiomes Affect Fear
New studies help to explain how microbes in the gut can shape a host’s fear responses.
Researchers are finding evidence that microbiomes can influence the fear responses of their hosts, possibly by releasing compounds that affect the brain’s neuroanatomy and function.
Until recently, studies of the gut-brain relationship have mostly shown only correlations between the state of the microbiome and operations in the brain. But new findings are digging deeper, building on research that demonstrates the microbiome’s involvement in responses to stress. Focusing on fear, and specifically on how fear fades over time, researchers have now tracked how behavior differs in mice with diminished microbiomes. They identified differences in cell wiring, brain activity and gene expression, and they pinpointed a brief window after birth when restoring the microbiome could still prevent the adult behavioral deficits. Read here