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Investigating the Gut-Brain axis with probiotic interventions to improve neuropsychological function and mental health.


Project Description

Investigations surrounding the gut-brain axis are currently at the forefront of research expanding our understanding of the relationship between nutrition and brain health. It is becoming increasingly evident that bidirectional signalling exists between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain, often involving the gut microbiota. This relationship, (dubbed the gut–brain axis), involves various pathways such as the vagus nerve and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal pathway.
This PhD will investigate to what extent the gut microbiota and associated pathways can impact upon neuropsychological function and mood outcomes, such as depression and anxiety, and the possibly underlying mechanisms of action. Specifically, the project will explore how probiotic interventions can affect the gut microbiota and psychological outcomes in healthy, ageing populations.
It is likely that over the course of three years you will design neuropsychological test batteries, use in vitro models of the gut microbial community, assess gut microbiota within faecal samples, examine mental health outcomes, undertake human clinical trials with a nutritional intervention, collaborate with an industrial partner and wider research team, engage in an extensive literature review, and present research findings at national and international conferences. There may also be the opportunity to explore cognitive outcomes with neuroimaging facilities such as fMRI and EEG at the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (housed within the School of Psychology). You will received training and guidance from a team of experienced supervisors across two schools at the University of Reading (Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences, and Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy).

Funding Notes

This PhD is co-funded by the University of Reading & Winclove and funding includes fees and a stipend for the student.

How good is research at University of Reading in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 40.15

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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