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Microbiologist Ling Lee says that the gut is home to another brain and it doesn’t need the brain that is sitting atop our heads.
She says that the gut is filled with as many nerves and neurons as an adult cat and is completely autonomous of the other organs. Apparently, if the gut is removed from the body and immersed in to a nutrient bath, it can go on digesting food.
The team headed by Lee began research to look in to obesity and turned towards the fundamentals of what makes the human body eat. The research focused on the relationship between the enteric system which governs needs and satiety and the brain. What they found was displayed in the London Science Museum.
One is a living subject: Molly Smith. Molly had her gut removed when she was very young due to a medical condition and she had been feeding through her veins or directly through her heart ever since. So taste was an alien concept to her and she never got hungry because she didn’t have a gut. When she got a multi organ transplant (pancreas, liver and bowel) she started to snack like there was no tomorrow. She still has trouble using cutlery and keeping regular mealtimes.
The other exhibits at the museum will include an experiment that tricks the gut in to thinking it’s full. Electric pulses will be administered to the tongue to give the flavour of lemons and the microchip implanted in to the gut will receive them and think it’s full.
Another experiment measures how much brain activity is triggered when certain foods are introduced to regular consumers and occasional consumers. For example regular ice cream eaters don’t show much brain activity when served, while those that consume on occasion, do.