Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Gut microbiota

Intestinal bacteria influence brain activity in healthy humans

Emerging evidence indicates that the intestinal microbiota influence brain chemistry, development and behaviour in animals. Tillisch and colleagues now show that ingestion of selected probiotics changes brain connectivity and responses to emotional challenge in healthy humans, paving the way for therapeutic exploitation of the microbiome–brain axis for functional gastrointestinal and primary behavioural disorders.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Intestinal bacteria influence brain activity in healthy humans.


  1. Tillisch, K. et al. Consumption of fermented milk product with probiotic modulates brain activity. Gastroenterology

  2. Bercik, P. et al. The intestinal microbiota affect central levels of brain-derived neurotropic factor and behavior in mice. Gastroenterology 141, 599–609 (2011).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Collins, S.M., Surette, M. & Bercik, P. The interplay between the intestinal microbiota and the brain. Nat. Rev. Microbiol. 10, 735–742 (2012).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Cryan, J.F. & Dinan, T. G. Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behaviour. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 13, 701–712 (2012).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. McNulty, N.P. et al. The impact of a consortium of fermented milk strains on the gut microbiome of gnotobiotic mice and monozygotic twins. Sci. Transl. Med. 3, 106ra106 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Van Oudenhove, L. et al. Fatty acid-induced gut-brain signaling attenuates neural and behavioral effects of sad emotion in humans. J. Clin. Invest. 121, 3094–3099 (2011).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Schreiber, J. et al. Neurologic considerations in propionic acidemia. Mol. Genet. Metab. 105, 10–15 (2012).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Moayyedi, P. et al. The efficacy of probiotics in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review. Gut 59, 325–332 (2010).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Foster, J.A. & McVey Neufeld, K. A. Gut–brain axis: how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression. Trends Neurosci.

  10. Louis, P. Does the human gut microbiota contribute to the etiology of autism spectrum disorders? Dig. Dis. Sci. 57, 1987–1989 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors are supported by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and by a grant in aid from the Nestlé Research Center.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Stephen M. Collins.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors have received a grant for research support from the Nestlé Research Center, Nestlé, Switzerland.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Collins, S., Bercik, P. Intestinal bacteria influence brain activity in healthy humans. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 10, 326–327 (2013).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing