Research conducted largely within the past 15-years has revealed a bidirectional communication network linking microbial populations in the mammalian gut to certain neurological processes in the brain. “Crosstalk” between the gut and brain is facilitated by a variety of pathways, including neuronal connections, hormonal signaling, and immunological responses. Disruptions in the composition of intestinal microbiota are associated with a variety of mental health and neurological disorders, including anxiety/depression and Parkinson’s disease respectively. Because, genetic, physical, and psychological influences all impact the composition of intestinal microbes, these communities are more unique than a fingerprint in any one individual. Consequently, understanding how an array of factors differentially modulate intestinal microbiota is fundamental to understanding human health and disease.

This seminar will explore the scientific data underlying the gut-brain connection described in many popular scientific sources in a format that is more accessible to a general audience. Task: Lessons and discussions containing material from the literature will complement readings from Alanna Collen’s10% Human How your body’s microbes hold the key to health and happiness. Criteria: In addition to receiving a contextual framework for the fundamental pathways linking the brain and gut, participants should have a greater understanding of the mind-gut connection from historical, developmental, and evolutionary perspectives.

Brian Piasecki is an associate professor of biology and the program director of neuroscience at Lawrence University. He earned his Ph.D. in Plant Biology from the University of Minnesota studying photosynthetic microalgae. His postdoctoral work in the Department of Bioscience and Nutrition at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden provided the foundation for his current research program that explores fundamental cell biological processes related to sensory perception using the nervous system of a nematode worm as a molecular and genetic model. Brian serves as the co-director of Lawrence University’s Marine Term Program (LUMP) and is the chair of the Inclusive Pedagogy Committee. He has been on the faculty at Lawrence since 2011.

Required Reading: Alanna Collen, 10% Human How your body’s microbes hold the key to health and happiness. ISBN: 9780062345981, 9780062345982, 9780007584031, 9780007584024, 9780062345998, 9780007584055, or any other eBook format.


Sunday, August 14, 2022 to Saturday, August 20, 2022
Science; Health