How the Stomach is Connected to the Brain and Thought

“The sympathetic nervous system generates the “fight or flight” response — an involuntary response that sends more blood flow rushing to the muscles and the release of hormones to boost awareness and heart rate. It also reduces blood flow for digestion during stressful or life-threatening situations.

On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system also produces involuntary signals that maintain regular bodily functions such as digestion, normal breathing and the routine heartbeat.

As the study now reveals, these two limbs of autonomic control over the stomach are influenced by distinct cortical networks.

When it comes to trusting your gut, it already is well-established that the stomach and gut send “ascending” signals to the brain in a way that influences brain function. It helps to explain how the microbiome impacts brain function.

But the study has found that the “central nervous system both influences and is influenced by the gastrointestinal system.”

What people haven’t understood to date, Dr. Strick said, is that the brain also has “descending influences on the stomach” with various parts of the brain involved in that signaling, including those areas that control movement and emotions. ”