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"Your Gut Is Directly Connected To Your Brain, By A Newly Discovered Neuron Circuit" - Emily Underwood

  • Science Magazine
  • New York, NY
  • (September 20, 2018)

A new study reveals the gut has much more direct connection to the brain through a neural circuit that allows it to transmit signals in mere seconds. The findings could lead to new treatments for obesity, eating disorders, and even depression and autism – all of which have been linked to a malfunctioning gut. Additional clues about how gut sensory cells benefit us today lie in a study published in Cell. Researchers used lasers to stimulate the sensory neurons that innervate the gut in mice, which produced rewarding sensations the rodents worked hard to repeat. The laser stimulation also increased levels of a mood-boosting neurotransmitter called dopamine in the rodents’ brains, the researchers found. The paper helps explain why stimulating the vagus nerve with electrical current can treat severe depression in people, said study author, Ivan de Araujo, senior faculty of neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The results may also explain why, on a basic level, eating makes us feel good. “Even though these neurons are outside the brain, they perfectly fit the definition of reward neurons that drive motivation and increase pleasure,” he said.

- Ivan E. de Araujo, PhD, Senior Faculty, Neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

- Wenfei Han, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

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