Dr Katerina Johnson of Oxford University’s Department of Experimental Psychology has been researching the science of that ‘gut feeling’ – the relationship between the bacteria living in the gut (the gut microbiome) and behavioural traits. In a large human study she found that both gut microbiome composition and diversity were related to differences in personality, including sociability and neuroticism.
She said: 'There has been growing research linking the gut microbiome to the brain and behaviour, known as the microbiome–gut–brain axis. Most research has been conducted in animals, whilst studies in humans have focused on the role of the gut microbiome in neuropsychiatric conditions. In contrast, my key interest was to look in the general population to see how variation in the types of bacteria living in the gut may be related to personality.'