Friday, December 3

Scientists give the answer to the origin of thirst in the brain | Digital Trends Spanish

Drinking water seems such a natural act that one is not aware of the complex process carried out by the brain to control this behavior.

Chris Zimmerman is a researcher who has been awarded the 2020 Eppendorf & Science Prize in Neurobiology, precisely for tracing the origin of thirst in the brain.

Man drinking water from a bottle
Photo by Bit Cloud on Unsplash

Drinking instantly generates layers of signals that allow neurons in the brain to adjust the sensation of thirst from one moment to the next, according to the findings of Zimmerman and his colleagues.

The so-called thirst neurons predict the need for water in real time by combining signals from hydration levels in the blood, mouth, throat and intestine, in addition to adjusting feelings of thirst in a preventive way.

“Thirst is not simply a response to changes in blood hydration levels as suggested by classical models, it is also dynamically regulated by body-to-brain signals that predict changes in hydration before they occur,” Zimmerman explains to Inverse.

The researcher and his team used new technology to record thirst neurons in the mice. They stimulated and recorded calcium activity in the rodents’ brains using fiber optic technology, which identified how a group of neurons called SFO feel thirsty.

They then used a gastric infusion – the water is delivered directly to the mice through an opening in the stomach wall – to explore a body-to-brain signaling pathway in the gut.

Zimmerman emphasizes that thirst neurons don’t just detect signals about the current hydration status of the blood, as previously thought. They also receive a second class of signals from other parts of the body, such as the mouth, throat, and intestine.

“These discoveries are exciting because they reveal for the first time how the brain produces aspects of our daily experience,” concludes Zimmerman.

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