anhinga_anhinga (anhinga_anhinga) wrote,

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The Enteric Nervous System: A Second Brain

Prof. Michael Gershon, the Chairman of the Dept. of Anatomy and Cell Biology of Columbia University says that our gut can think for itself.


"Once dismissed as a simple collection of relay ganglia, the enteric nervous system is now recognized as a complex, integrative brain in its own right. Although we still are unable to relate complex behaviors such as gut motility and secretion to the activity of individual neurons, work in that area is proceeding briskly--and will lead to rapid advances in the management of functional bowel disease.

Structurally and neurochemically, the enteric nervous system (ENS) is a brain unto itself. Within those yards of tubing lies a complex web of microcircuitry driven by more neurotransmitters and neuromodulators than can be found anywhere else in the peripheral nervous system. These allow the ENS to perform many of its tasks in the absence of central nervous system (CNS) control--a unique endowment that has permitted enteric neurobiologists to investigate nerve cell ontogeny and chemical mediation of reflex behavior in a laboratory setting. Recognition of the importance of this work as a basis for developing effective therapies for functional bowel disease, coupled with the recent, unexpected discovery of major enteric defects following the knockout of murine genes not previously known to affect the gut, has produced a groundswell of interest that has attracted some of the best investigators to the field. Add to this that the ENS provides the closest thing we have to a window on the brain, and one begins to understand why the bowel--the second brain--is finally receiving the attention it deserves.[...]"

:-) :-) :-) So all kinds of cool things can be given proper explanations, from our "gut feelings" and Bush' "I am a gut player", to the default location of Castaneda's "assemblage point" :-) :-) :-) Eat well!
Tags: crazy cool, neuroscience
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