Document Type

Honors Project

Publication Date



Recent work has found relationships between the gut microbiota—the community of organisms that inhabit an animal’s digestive tract—and psychological health. In particular, the gut microbiota of individuals with depression shows a different genetic composition to those without depression. Thus, this study explored how rumination, a predictor of depression, and gut microbiota composition are correlated to detect possible gut microbiota alterations present before depression develops. This study also examined whether a brief mindfulness mobile application intervention, which has been shown to reduce rumination, can increase beneficial bacteria abundance and decrease pathogenic bacteria abundance. Participants were 16 first-year students. They engaged in a 4-week brief mindfulness mobile app intervention. Rumination was assessed by a self-report questionnaire,and participants' gut microbiota compositions were analyzed from fecal samples collected at pre- and post-intervention. There were significant correlations between rumination and three gut microbiota groups. However, the results were inconclusive due to the small sample size and inconsistency in past studies to determine whether the gut microbiota is beneficial or pathogenic.Additionally, there were significant differences in abundance from pre- to post-intervention in three taxa.The genus Bifidobacterium—abeneficialtaxon—increased, and the genus Marvinbryantia—a pathogenictaxon—decreased in individuals after the intervention. However, another pathogenic genus of bacteria,Alistipes,increased in individuals after the intervention. Future studies should investigate the relationship between rumination and the gut microbiome with a bigger sample size. Additionally,a randomized controlled trial is needed to see the intervention efficacy alone on gut health.

Level of Honors

magna cum laude






Lori Hilt and Brian Piasecki

Included in

Psychology Commons