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Links Between the Microbiome and Mental Health

Reported by:
Brittany Aguilar, PhD

Presented by:

The New York Academy of Sciences


The brain is affected by bodily changes—including microbiome composition—that influence cognition and behavior. This eBriefing will explore the interaction between the brain, gut & microbiome, with a focus on how the microbiome influences developmental, neuropsychiatric, and immune-related disorders, including socioaffective processing disorders such as autism.

In this eBriefing, You’ll Learn:

  • How the microbiome is seeded and maintained throughout life
  • How stress effects health of the microbiome
  • How changes in microbiome composition result in changes in behavior
  • The latest research in therapies targeting microbiome


John Cryan, PhD
University College Cork

Kirsten Tillisch, MD
University of California, Los Angeles

Microbiome and Mental Health

John Cryan, PhD

University College Cork

John Cryan, PhD, is focused on understanding the interaction between brain, gut, and microbiome and how it applies to stress and immune-related disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome and obesity and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.  Dr. Cryan is a Professor & Chair of the Department of Anatomy & Neuroscience at the University College Cork in Ireland.  He spent four years at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Basel Switzerland, as a LabHead, Behavioural Pharmacology prior to joining UCC and is a Senior Editor of Neuropharmacology and Nutritional Neuroscience and an Editor of British Journal of Pharmacology.

Kirsten Tillisch, MD

University of California, Los Angeles

Kirsten Tillisch, MD, was the first to demonstrate an effect of gut microbial manipulation with probiotics on emotional brain responses. Her ongoing research is focused on the role of the mind-body connection in chronic pain syndromes as well as the effects of mindfulness, hypnotherapy, and other non-drug therapies for irritable bowel syndrome. She is the Chief of Integrative Medicine at the Greater Los Angeles VA and a Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Further Readings


Dinan TG, Cryan JF

Gut microbiota: a missing link in psychiatry

World Psychiatry. 2020 Feb;19(1):111-112

Minal J, Rea K, Spichak S, et al

You’ve got male: Sex and the microbiota-gut-brain axis across the lifespan

Front Neuroendocrinol. 2020 Jan;56:100815

Lyte JM, Gheorghe CE, Goodson MS, et al

Gut-brain axis serotonergic responses to acute stress exposure are microbiome-dependent

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2020 May 11; e13881

Bassett SA, Young W, Fraser K, t al

Metabolome and microbiome profiling of a stress-sensitive rat model of gut-brain axis dysfunction

Scientific reports. 2019 Oct 1;9(1):14026

Cyran JF, Dinan TG

Decoding the role of the microbiome on amygdala function and social behaviour

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2018 Oct 19;44(1): 233-234


Tillisch K, Gupta A

The Role of the Microbiome in Mood

The Microbiome and the Brain, edited by D Perlmutter, CRC Press 2020, 107-120.

Tillisch K, Mayer EA, Gupta A, et al

Brain structure and response to emotional stimuli as related to gut microbial profiles in healthy women

Psychosom Med. 2017 Oct;79(8):905-913

Labus JS, Hollister EB, Jacobs J, et al

Differences in gut microbial composition correlate with regional brain volumes in irritable bowel syndrome

Microbiome. 2017 May 1;5(1):49

Tillisch K, Labus JS

Neuroimaging the microbiome-gut-brain axis

Microbial Endocrinology: The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis in Health and Disease, edited by M Lyte, JF Cryan, Springer 2014, 405-416.

Tillisch K, Labus JS, Kilpatrick L, et al

Consumption of fermented milk product with probiotic modulates brain activity

Gastroenterology. 2013 Jun;144(7):1394-401.