Research Update #2 (Our Microbial Minds)

Update #2!!! I’ve finished my research (which consisted of watching TED talks, reading books, and reading lots of scientific articles). I feel like I now have a clear understanding of what the microbiota is and its role in the human body, modern day causes of dysbiosis, how the brain-gut axis works, and science linking gut microbes to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), anxiety/depressive disorders, and Schizophrenia. I ended up going beyond the initial scope of my research question and exploring the application of bacterial probiotics (also called “psychobiotics”) as a form of alternative medicine. Psychobiotics are a class of bacterial supplements specifically aimed at treating psychiatric conditions. While they are still very much in the research phase, there have been surprisingly promising results, especially on the ASD frontier.

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Post 1: Research and Refining Project (The Microbiota and the Mind)

My research this summer will be focused on the connection between the human microbiome and the brain–more namely, how gut microbes can contribute to the development of neuropsychological diseases like schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder. While we can’t prove causation yet, scientists have found some really promising¬†correlational evidence in germ-free mice models and humans that the microbial communities of diseased people looks different. I think this topic is extremely important in the scope of public health; understanding how our actions/diet affect our gut microbes (and how important those microbes are for our neural development) can inform how we live on a day-to-day basis and how to best treat¬†neuropsychological diseases.

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