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Fundamental research

13 - 06 - 2018

Stomach memory

Researchers have discovered in the rat that the gut-brain nerve axis is involved in environmental memory capacity. Should this be taken into account in bariatric surgery when it blocks this axis?

 

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Our memory is generally very powerful when it comes to remembering the place of a good meal.

 

We also know that the vagus nerve connects the brain to the very rich nervous system of our gastrointestinal tract. It informs about the state of hunger, and about different states of our gut. It activates the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with memorization.

 

Researchers wondered how this vagus nerve acts at the level of the hippocampus and if it intervenes in the memorization of the places where one feeds, allowing animals and humans to remember hunting or food collection places.

 

For that they used a rat model.

 

They discovered that if the vagus nerve is disconnected from the brain, the animals lose part of their environmental memory. The hippocampus does not work properly which leads to a memory deficit. In particular markers of new neural connections growth are reduced.

 

This study raises questions on the impact of bariatric surgeries that block signal exchanges between the digestive tract and the brain, on the memory capacity of patients.

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-06/uosc-im061218.php

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-04639-1