Tracing the Brain-To-Gut Connection

Using rabies virus injected into the stomach of rats, researchers trace the nerves back to the brain and find distinct ‘fight or flight’ and ‘rest and digest’ circuits. These results explain how mental states can affect the gut, and present new ways to treat gastrointestinal problems.

How the heart affects our perception

Brain and heart constantly communicate. For example, signals from the brain make sure that the heart beats faster when we encounter a dangerous situation. The heart slows down when we relax. Interestingly, vice versa – even though the underlying mechanisms are unclear, the heartbeat also affects the brain. It has now been identified by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig and Berlin School of Mind & Brain that two mechanisms underpinning how the heart influences our perception, the brain, and how these mechanisms differ between individuals.