Skip to navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer

Brain substrates linking gastrointestinal symptoms and psychiatric disorders

Brain substrates linking gastrointestinal symptoms and psychiatric disorders

Principal Investigator: Professor Joseph LeDoux
Approved Research ID: 49555
Approval date: March 9th 2020

Lay summary

Anxiety and depression are significantly increased in people with gastrointestinal disorders. Although gastrointestinal symptoms have been long linked to altered psychological factors, it is poorly understood today if and how these disorders intertwine at the brain level. One limitation involved when studying these disorders is that there is a heterogeneous manifestation of symptoms across the relevant population. In this study, we sought to look for brain correlates of specific gastrointestinal symptoms. Once differential brain patterns are detected, we will look for associated anxiety and depressive symptomatology. The aim is to find distinct clusters of mixed psychological and gastrointestinal symptoms that are prevalent in our population. We will then behaviourally characterize mixed-symptomatology clusters in relationship with cognitive functions and emotional processing. This work will allow us to detect biologically relevant clinical pictures and facilitate future investigations. This study will also advance our mechanistic understanding of complex psychiatric pathologies and has the potential to inform the development of new treatments.

Lastly, we will look for environmental factors that may foster or hinder symptom-clusters. Factors like diet, sleep, and early-life stress have been related to the occurrence of anxiety and depression, as well as to the occurrence of gastrointestinal disorders.

We believe that our work, both the analyses and the publication, will be complete within two years.