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Slide 1

THE BRAIN IN YOUR GUT
Ninotchska Del Valle Dorta
Vedrana Bali
Vladimir Grubisic

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What is a Cell?
• A cell is the basic unit of
life.
• There are different types
of cells
• Cells perform different
functions
• Groups of cells form
tissues and systems

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What is a Neuron?
• Neurons are special cells that
carry messages through the
body
• Neurons communicate with each
other through electrical and
chemical signals
• The human brain has approx.
100 billion neurons!

Since student age varies, we like to
start off our presentation with an
introduction to what a cell is before
we talk about neurons.

Here we talk about what makes up a
neuron and why they are important.
Students think it’s really cool to know
how many neurons we have in our
brain and learn how they
communicate with each other.

Slide 4

What is the Brain in Your Gut?
• The Brain in Your Gut or ‘enteric
nervous system’ is a group of
neurons that control gut function
• It is located in your esophagus,
stomach and intestines
• Problems with the brain in your
gut can lead to diarrhea or
constipation

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Before we talk about how these
neurons in our guts work, we like to
talk about digestion just to get an idea
of what students know and get them
to associate the brain in your gut with
digestion.

Fun Facts!
•The whole digestive tract is over 29 feet long!
•We have over 400 different species of bacteria in
our colon!
•The brain in your gut has as many neurons as
your cat!
•The brain in your gut works even without input
from your big brain!

Slide 6

Normal

This is a video showing how a guinea
pig intestine can function even outside
of the body. This helps us demonstrate
that the brain in your gut is important
for controlling gut function.

Slide 7

Slide 8

Slide 9

This video demonstrated that neurons
are what makes your gut work, since
when we kill them, peristalsis is
stopped.

Poisoned
neurons

Activity 1: Layers of the Gut

Activity 2:
Nutrient Absorption

Mucosa

Submucosal network of neurons

Serosa

Myenteric network of neurons

In this activity we hand out “layers” of
the gut and have students put them in
the right order. We want to show
them why location is important; for
example, neurons that control motility
are closer to the muscle layers of the
gut. Why? Neurons that are important
for nutrient absorbtion are closer to
the inside of the gut. Why?

In this activity we use nylon socks and
oatmeal to demonstrate how food
passes through the intestines and how
nutrients are absorbed. The idea is
that you need to squeeze and relax
(contraction and relaxation) in order
to get the oatmeal from the top of the
tube to the bottom of the tube. At the
same time, we demonstrate how
nutrients are “absorbed” through the
nylon socks.