The intestinal nervous system (enteric nervous system) is often called the "second brain" because it works as hard as the brain or spinal cord. Scientists are finally able to figure out exactly how the neurons in the gut push food, and what the neuronal network itself is made of.
Scientists have confirmed the hypothesis that the intestinal nervous system is actually the "first brain." That is, it was formed earlier than the brain.
A team of Australian scientists was able to study the colon of mice and how the intestines move the contents. In this, the researchers were helped by a new method that combines video recording with the analysis of biological electrical activity. Understanding how thousands of neurons interact within the intestinal nervous system and how they participate in the digestion process has become one of the major discoveries. The results of the work were published in the journal Nature.
The large bundles of connecting neurons that the scientists watched were fired up and helped propel the contents of the colon. Motor neurons are divided into excitatory, that is, causing an action, and inhibitory - blocking it, it is they who launch large beams. It turns out that an advanced network is formed in the intestinal nervous system, including several different types of neurons, more than previously thought.
Another discovery is that the activity of neurons in the intestine and the movements that they provoke are significantly different from the movements of fluid along other hollow smooth muscle organs. Scientists have confirmed the hypothesis that the intestinal nervous system is actually the "first brain" and not the second. It is assumed that it could have developed in animals long before the brain took its current shape. “Synchronizing the neuronal activity of large beams of neurons is common in the nervous system of many vertebrates,” explained neurophysiologist Nick Spencer of Flinders University in Australia.