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Microbes and Scary Mouse Memories

Mice whose gut microbiomes have been disrupted are less able to overcome fearful memories, according to New Scientist.

It notes that when mice are conditioned to associate a certain sound with a small shock, they learn to freeze as soon as they hear that sound. But then if they hear that sound for sometime without getting that shock, they lose that fear, it adds. But researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine found that if those mice are given antibiotics that disrupt their gut microbes prior to fear conditioning, they are less able to overcome that fear, as the team reports in Nature.

Four metabolites that have been linked to neuropsychiatric conditions in both mouse models and humans were downregulated in the brains of these mice, the researchers note.

The University of Sydney's Andrew Holmes tells New Scientist these findings could have implications for work examining risk factors for conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder in humans.