Unsupervised Thinking
a podcast about neuroscience, artificial intelligence and science more broadly

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Episode 34: The Gut-Brain Connection

Because of the sheer number of neurons in the gut, the enteric nervous system is sometimes called the second brain. What're all those neurons doing down there? And what, or who, is controlling them? Science has recently revealed that the incredibly large population of microorganisms in the gut have a lot to say to the brain, by acting on these neurons and other mechanisms, and can impact everything from stress to obesity to autism. In this episode, we give the basic stats and facts about the enteric nervous system (and argue about whether it really is a "second brain") and cover how the gut can alter the brain via nerves, hormones, and the immune system. We then talk about what happens when mice are raised without gut microbes (weird) and whether yogurt has any chance of curing things like anxiety. Throughout, we marvel at how intuitive all this seems despite being incredibly difficult to actually study. All that plus: obscure literary references, Josh's hilariously extreme fear of snakes, multiple misuses of the word "species," and DIY feces transplants! 

We read:
Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behaviour

And mentioned:
Nancy's previous episode Episode 31: Consuming Science
Episode 23: What Can Neuroscience Say About Consciousness?

And our special guest was Nancy Padilla!

To listen to (or download) this episode, (right) click here
[apologies for minor audio issues on this one!]

As always, our jazzy theme music "Quirky Dog" is courtesy of Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) 

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