The connection between meals and reminiscence is a kind of essentially human experiences we are able to all relate to. A compelling new research from the University of Southern California has revealed an intriguing clarification behind this phenomenon, and it illustrates how strongly the “second brain” in our intestine communicates with our mind.
Inside our gastrointestinal tract lies an enormous mesh of neurons also known as our “second brain.” While this neuronal management system primarily works to independently handle our digestive system, it additionally has been discovered to directly communicate with the mind through a protracted nerve, known as the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve has been discovered to mediate a substantial amount of metabolic communication between the intestine and the mind. For instance, one recent study revealed how feeding conduct, modulated by exercise within the hippocampus, is straight activated by vagal nerve stimulation, mediated by alerts from the gastrointestinal tract.
It appears apparent that alerts from the intestine could be speaking with the mind on this method, letting us know after we are full and will cease consuming for example. But what if these intestine to hippocampus communications lined greater than easy starvation or satiety cues? Could additionally they have an effect on different cognitive and reminiscence processes regulated by the hippocampus?
This is the query USC researchers got down to examine and the end result could have uncovered an historic trait that we advanced to assist us higher keep in mind the place to seek out the perfect meals. The research utilized a novel rodent mannequin that eliminates round 80 p.c of vagal nerve communication with the mind whereas nonetheless retaining basic brain-to-gut motor signaling.
The research discovered that when this gut-brain pathway was disconnected the rats displayed impaired episodic and spatial working reminiscence. This primarily implies that the animals couldn’t successfully generate and entry spatial reminiscences triggered by the gastrointestinal system. With this pathway disrupted, an interesting connection between our intestine and reminiscence is hypothesized.
“When animals find and eat a meal, for instance, the vagus nerve is activated and this global positioning system is engaged,” says Scott Kanoski, corresponding writer on the research. “It would be advantageous for an animal to remember their external environment so that they could have food again.”
The researchers hypothesize that this mechanism advanced to assist us keep in mind the place we discovered notably good sources of meals, and aided in navigating again to these particular areas. This is the primary time scientists have revealed such a novel, and express, connection between intestine alerts, the vagus nerve, and hippocampus reminiscence exercise.
Other research have revealed that synthetic electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve can improve reminiscence operate, however that is the primary to seek out an endogenous connection from the intestine by to the hippocampus that mediates this cognitive pathway. Interestingly, this specific analysis discovered that the precise vagal nerve disruption studied right here didn’t have an effect on social studying, nervousness or physique weight.
The research concludes by elevating a light concern over the shortage of analysis on this space. It is recommended that frequent bariatric surgical procedures, similar to a gastric bypass, have been discovered to cut back the effectiveness of vagal nerve signaling to the mind. As properly as that, a just lately authorized FDA weight problems therapy, known as VLBOC, has been proven to successfully promote weight reduction by electrically disrupting the vagus nerve.
Could these vagal-disrupting remedies be leading to unstudied cognitive or reminiscence associated unwanted effects? We merely have no idea at this stage, however additional analysis is recommended by the USC staff.
The new research was revealed within the journal Nature Communications.