BOB HIRSHON (host):
Behind our “gut feeling”. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Like our eyes and ears, our gut is a sense organ. In response to what we eat, it conveys information about nutrients, heat, and fullness to our brain. Now, researchers report in the journal Science that these signals travel via an electrical connection from the gut to the brain in mere milliseconds. Duke neuroscientist Maya Kaelberer says scientists used to think slow-acting hormones primarily transmitted this information.
MAYA KAELBERER (Duke University):
If we’ve ever eaten a really fast meal we feel full a lot faster than that. And this kind of led us to believe that there has to be a faster synaptic connection that’s actually relaying these messages to the brain.
In mice, her team found that a neurotransmitter called glutamate is responsible for actually relaying the signal. The discovery could help shed light on appetite disorders and obesity. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.
Story by Susanne Bard