New Research Approaches Increasing interest in the innervation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract has led to the emergence of neurogastroenterology, a field that weds classic anatomy and physiology with contemporary neuroscience. The field has roots reaching back to Pavlov's dogs. Today, however, like other biomedical sciences, its researchers take a more molecular approach, tracking the neurons of the gut and the neurotransmitters and neuropeptides that they release.

LANDMARK FINDING: Michael Gerson found seratonin, a transmitter abundant in the brain, to be present in the gut as well.
Links between the nervous and digestive systems are well known. Diarrhea following intense fright and cramps before an exam clearly couple the two systems, because the brain registers the emotions that prompt the digestive responses. But some of the nerves in the GI tract can function without links to the brain, prompting researchers to dub them a "second brain."

The newly recognized...

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