The Second Brain : The Scientific Basis of Gut Instinct and a Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestines

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9780060182526: The Second Brain : The Scientific Basis of Gut Instinct and a Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestines

Dr. Michael D. Gershon's groundbreaking work clearly demonstrates that the human gut actually has a brain of its own. This remarkable scientific breakthrough offers fascinating proof that "gut instinct" is biological, a function of the second brain.

An alarming number of people suffer from heartburn, nausea, abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, or related problems. Often thought to be caused by a "weakness" of the mind, these conditions may actually be a reflection of a disorder in the second brain. The second brain, located in the bowel, normally works smoothly with the brain in the head, enabling the head-brain to concentrate on the finer pursuits of life while the gut-brain attends to the messy business of digestion. A breakdown in communication between the two brains can lead to stomach and intestinal trouble, causing sufferers great abdominal grief and--too often--labeling them as neurotic complainers.

Dr. Gershon's research into the second brain provides understanding for those who suffer from gut-related ailments and offers new insight into the origin, extent, and management.

The Second Brain is the culmination of thirty years of research. It is an extraordinary contribution to the understanding of gastrointestinal illnesses, as well as a fascinating glimpse into hoe our gut really works.

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Review:

Did you ever tell someone that they think with their stomach? Then you're on the cutting edge of scientific thought, according to researcher Michael D. Gershon. The title of his book The Second Brain refers to the hundred million nerve cells in and around our guts that often act entirely independently of the dictator inside our heads. This isn't so bad--there are some meals we'd rather not have to think about eating, much less digesting. Gershon tells us the stories of his development into a scientist, his determination to promote neurogastroenterology as a legitimate field of research, and the nature of "the brain gone south," all with humor and aplomb.

Though not for the overly squeamish (after all, even if Gershon were to pull his punches, his subject still carries traces of old taboos), The Second Brain is a lively and invigorating read. The illustrations are superb and well labeled; this complements the text, which ranges from clinical to personal, as when the author details the events leading to his mother's tragic death following unnecessary surgery for an ulcer. The interactions between the enteric nervous system and digestion, emotion, and disease are not simple, but Gershon's patient prose explains everything in terms any interested layperson can understand.

As in the best scientific works, The Second Brain informs and inspires, surprising the reader with unexpected complexities and mysteries arising in such a seemingly primitive venue. It makes excellent after-dinner reading. --Rob Lightner

About the Author:

Michael D. Gershon M.D., is chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City.

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Gershon, Michael
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