ENTERIC BRAIN

Nonverbal Cues



Ever since you gave me that order to be silent, a number of things in my stomach have gone to rot . . . . --Sancho Panza (Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote [1605:161])

Chomsky's linguistics was beginning to strike many people as "a theory of the stomach which ignored digestion." --David Berreby (1994)

I don't like shopping, especially in a mall. I get dizzy and it makes me want to toss my cookies. --Nancy Lee Grahn, "Alexis," General Hospital (Soap Opera Digest, May 2, 2000:57)


Neuro term. A vast collection of nerve cells and paleocircuits in the bowel area, of such complexity that it has recently been called the "second brain."

Usage: In many ways independent of the brain proper--i.e., having a mind of its own--the enteric brain expresses itself nonverbally in visible "gut reactions." The "full" feeling of satisfaction, the "sick" feeling of nausea, the urge to vomit, and abdominal pain, e.g., are telegraphed through familiar facial expressions and body movements.

Culture. In the Japanese art of shinyo, one supposedly may cultivate the nonverbal skills of an awareness center called the hara, a region of the abdomen, diaphram, and stomach, which may be trained to process "gut feelings" about another person's unvoiced motivations and moods. "It is the primary way in which senior level Japanese officials and executives conduct business, and takes precedence over almost all other forms of decision-making. It does not consist of 'winging it' based on generally ill-defined intuition; rather it is a skill and art which sets some people apart from all others in Japanese society and consists of learning and skills which are in some ways closely guarded secrets even today" (Drake 2000).

Goethe's biology. "Much of the ungulate's soul life--despite its undoubted intensity and power--does not appear at the surface, because it is too much involved in the processes of digestion and growth to establish any close relationship with the outside world" (Schadt, p. 226).

Neuro-notes I. 1. In terms of its structures, functions, and neurochemicals, the enteric nervous system (ENS) is now regarded as "a brain unto itself." According to Gershon (1998), "Within those yards of tubing lies a complex web of microcircuitry driven by more neurotransmitters and neuromodulators than can be found anywhere else in the peripheral nervous system. These allow the ENS to perform many of its tasks in the absence of central nervous system (CNS) control . . . ." 2. Located in the walls of the gastrointestinal tract, the enteric nervous system contains ca. 100 million neurons (Willis 1998D:238).

Neuro-notes II. Though the vagus nerve controls much of the ENS, the latter itself dictates how to perform most of its diverse functions.

See also DISGUST, NONVERBAL BRAIN, REST-AND-DIGEST, SPECIAL VISCERAL NERVE.

YouTube Video: View a short tutorial on the enteric brain.

Copyright 1998 - 2016 (David B. Givens/Center for Nonverbal Studies)