Groundbreaking Research Sheds Light on the Mysterious Gut-Brain Link

by Manuel Costa
Gut-brain connection

The Laureate Institute for Brain Research team has made substantial progress in unraveling the mysteries of the gut-brain connection, using a unique vibrating capsule for gastrointestinal stimulation. The study, featured in Nature Communications, indicates a potential shift in how we approach gut-brain disorders, paving the way for personalized treatments and predictive markers for therapeutic interventions.

A trailblazing study led by the Laureate Institute for Brain Research (LIBR), based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has taken significant steps towards understanding the complex gut-brain interaction. This interaction has historically puzzled the scientific community due to the challenges in studying the body’s internal mechanisms. The study, named “Parieto-occipital ERP indicators of gut mechanosensation in humans,” will be published today (June 13) in the esteemed scientific journal, Nature Communications.

The research group innovatively made use of a minimally invasive vibrating capsule that participants swallowed to monitor neural responses during gastrointestinal stimulation. This novel methodology opens new avenues in exploring this intricate link. The capsule, a creation of Vibrant Ltd, was administered to healthy male and female volunteers aged between 18 and 40. The study established that the participants could sense the capsule’s stimulation under two circumstances: normal and enhanced. Enhanced stimulation led to superior perceptual accuracy, quicker stimulation detection, and a decline in reaction time variability, suggesting potential applicability in various clinical scenarios. This significant finding verifies the viability of this new approach to examining gut sensations.

Moreover, the researchers discovered a “gastric evoked potential” – a delayed neural response in certain brain areas specifically triggered by the capsule stimulation. This response’s amplitude increased based on the stimulation intensity and showed a significant correlation with perceptual accuracy, offering a novel means to measure and comprehend the neural mechanics underpinning the gut-brain connection.

“Using abdominal X-ray imaging, we were successful in localizing most of the capsule stimulations to the gastroduodenal segments of the digestive tract,” stated Dr. Sahib Khalsa, a psychiatrist, neuroscientist at LIBR, and the study’s senior author. “This understanding is fundamental as it provides a more accurate knowledge of the origin of these gut-brain interactions.”

Dr. Khalsa expressed that the results of this study carry substantial clinical implications. “The vibrating capsule methodology could revolutionize the clinical handling of gut-brain interaction disorders, including eating disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and functional dyspepsia.”

Dr. Khalsa elaborated, “This development offers a much-needed tool for evaluating gut sensation in these conditions and could lead to more personalized and successful treatment strategies. Moreover, it enables the possibility of identifying perceptual or biological indicators of successful treatment, which could act as predictive markers for future therapeutic interventions.”

Reference: “Parieto-occipital ERP indicators of gut mechanosensation in humans” 13 June 2023, Nature Communications.
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-39058-4

The research was spearheaded by the senior author, Sahib Khalsa, MD, PhD, Director of Clinical Operations at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research, and an Associate Professor in the Oxley College of Health Sciences at The University of Tulsa. The study’s co-first authors were Ahmad Mayeli, PhD, and Obada Al Zoubi, PhD, who were a PhD student and a postdoctoral scholar, respectively, from LIBR at the commencement of the project.

This research received support from the National Institute of Mental Health and The William K. Warren Foundation and was conducted at LIBR from September 2019 until February 2022.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Gut-brain connection

What is the main objective of this research?

The primary aim of the research is to deepen understanding of the complex gut-brain connection using a novel vibrating capsule for gastrointestinal stimulation. This approach could potentially revolutionize treatment of gut-brain disorders.

Who conducted the research?

The research was conducted by a team from the Laureate Institute for Brain Research (LIBR), led by senior author Sahib Khalsa, MD, PhD.

What is the vibrating capsule used in the study?

The vibrating capsule is a minimally invasive tool developed by Vibrant Ltd. It was swallowed by the participants to measure neural responses during gastrointestinal stimulation, providing a new method to study the intricate gut-brain connection.

What was the significant discovery of the research?

Researchers discovered the “gastric evoked potential,” a late neural response in specific brain areas triggered by capsule stimulation. This discovery provides a new way to measure and understand the neural processes that govern the gut-brain connection.

What are the potential clinical implications of this research?

The vibrating capsule method could transform the clinical approach to disorders of gut-brain interaction, including eating disorders and certain gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or functional dyspepsia. It could lead to more personalized and effective treatment strategies and enable the identification of perceptual or biological markers of successful treatment.

More about Gut-brain connection

You may also like


Nick_R June 14, 2023 - 12:06 am

Does anyone know when this kind of treatment might be available for the public? My sister has been suffering from gut issues for years.

Kathy Simmons June 14, 2023 - 3:03 am

I’ve got a friend with IBS. I hope this research could mean better treatment for him. Keep up the great work guys.

Jared85 June 14, 2023 - 5:04 am

Not gonna lie, swallowing a vibrating capsule sounds a bit odd… but if it helps understand the gut-brain thing, why not.

Brian Thompson June 14, 2023 - 6:48 am

Whoa! This is mind-blowing stuff. i mean, a vibrating capsule, really? Science is crazy!

Emma_Stewart June 14, 2023 - 9:13 am

This is fascinating! i’ve been reading up on gut health for a while. It’s amazing how it links to our brain…


Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.

SciTechPost is a web resource dedicated to providing up-to-date information on the fast-paced world of science and technology. Our mission is to make science and technology accessible to everyone through our platform, by bringing together experts, innovators, and academics to share their knowledge and experience.


Subscribe my Newsletter for new blog posts, tips & new photos. Let's stay updated!

© 2023 SciTechPost