Work Package 1

How do gut bacteria affect task performance and the brain in an everyday population?

What's involved?

Work Package 1 is a single-visit study evaluating the relationship between gut bacteria, behaviour and brain function in 250 healthy male volunteers. People who take part in this study will be asked to provide faecal, urine and blood samples for biological analysis, complete a small number of behavioural tasks and questionnaires, and have an MRI scan at the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics, University of Reading.


If you would like to take part in the study, please follow this link to see if you are eligible

MRI scan

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive tool for imaging the living brain. Using MRI, we can visualise different kinds of tissue, measure changes in blood flow, and estimate levels of chemicals your brain uses to function properly. The MRI scan will take 1 hour, during which you can lie back and relax.

Biological samples

There are around 100,000,000,000,000 microorganisms in the human gut! That's more than the number of cells in your entire body.

To measure the levels of bacteria and the chemicals they produce in the gut, we will ask you to provide small samples of faeces, urine and blood for analysis.


Behavioural tasks

The gut produces chemicals that are identical to the chemicals produced by your brain. To help us understand whether the bacterial environment in your gut can affect your behaviour and performance, we'll ask you to complete some simple computer-based tasks. We'll also ask you to answer some questions about your eating habits, emotions and general wellbeing.