Dr. French's research focuses on the neuroendocrine regulation of social behavior, stress, and cognition in marmosets, an important translational primate model for human behavior and mental health. The closest genetic relatives of humans (chimpanzees and gorillas) are primarily fruit and plant eaters, but marmoset feeding ecology, like the typical human diet, consists of an omnivorous diet of animal protein (~ 25% of food intake), fruits and leaves (25%), and complex carbohydrates (50%). The marmoset gut microbiome likely has diversity and complexity similar to the human the human microbiome. There is an intimate communication between the gut and the brain (via the enteric nervous system, immune signals, and metabolic and appetite-regulating hormones), and this communication is modulated in important ways by the gut microbiome.
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