AUSTRALIA (CBS Local) – You’ve probably had a “gut feeling” during your life, but did you know your gut is actually “thinking” too? According to scientists in Australia, the human body has a “second brain” in its intestinal tract and it may be smarter than we think.
A study published in the journal JNeurosci says that the gastrointestinal tract contains millions of neurons, which independently control muscle movement in the colon.
“These findings identify a previously unknown pattern of neuronal activity in the peripheral nervous system,” Prof. Nick Spencer from Flinders University in Australia said in a press release.
“Until this new study no one had any idea exactly how large populations of neurons in the ENS lead to contraction of the intestine,” he added, via Science Alert.
Researchers discovered that the neurons in the digestive system fire in synchronized blasts, which propel waste out of the body. This is the same way neurons in the brain fire as they send signals throughout the body.
Spencer and his team believe the same results will be found in other mammals including humans, even though the Australian study was conducted with mice,
“We can use this as a blueprint to understand how dysfunctional neurogenic motor patterns may arise along the colon,” Spencer said.
The professor noted that the brain in your gut is technically your “first brain” because scientists believe it actually evolved before the brain and central nervous system in mammals.