Yet watching Patti Smith sing „A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” live streamed from the Nobel Prize ceremony in early December to a room full of physicists, chemists and physicians — watching her twice choke up, each time stopping the song altogether, only to push on through all seven wordy minutes of one of Bob Dylan’s most beloved songs — left me optimistic.
One of the more fascinating fields of neuroscience of late entails mapping the crosstalk between our biomes, brains and immune systems.

In July, a group from the University of Virginia published a study in Nature showing that the immune system, in addition to protecting us from a daily barrage of potentially infectious microbes, can also influence social behavior. The researchers had previously shown that a type of white blood cells called T cells influence learning behavior in mice by communicating with the brain. Now they’ve shown that blocking T cell access to the brain influences rodent social preferences.

It appears that interferon, an immune system factor released from T cells, is at least partly responsible for the findings. A single injection of interferon into the mice’s cerebrospinal fluid, the clear, protective fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord, was enough to restore social behaviors.

Bret Stetka
„From Psychedelics To Alzheimer’s, 2016 Was A Good Year For Brain Science”