This page was printed from

Fibers with sensors help study the brain-gut connection

Swatches | May 1, 2024 | By:

These flexible fibers, which are embedded with sensors and light sources, can be used to manipulate and monitor the connections between the brain and the digestive tract. Image: MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engineers have designed a new means for probing the connections between the brain and the digestive tract, using fibers embedded with a variety of sensors as well as light sources for stimulation.

The researchers induced feelings of fullness or reward-seeking behavior in mice by manipulating cells of the intestine. Untangling these hormonal and neural effects has been difficult because there hasn’t been a good way to rapidly measure the neuronal signals, which occur within milliseconds.

The device’s electronic interface includes flexible polymer fibers about as thin as a human hair that can be embedded with electrodes and temperature sensors. The filaments also carry microscale light-emitting devices that can be used to stimulate
cells and microfluidic channels that can deliver drugs.

The researchers now plan to use the interface to study neurological conditions that are believed to have a gut-brain connection. For instance, studies have shown that autistic children are far more likely than their peers to be diagnosed with GI dysfunction, while anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome share genetic risks.

Share this Story