Our Emotional Gut

Biomedical Sciences

By: Alli Fries, 3rd year PhD candidate in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

4815843665_1f6330d395_oChances are you have heard it from others and felt it yourself!  One might experience that fluttery or squirmy feeling in their stomach in situations that trigger nervousness or fear, such as public speaking or climbing the first hill of an enormous roller coaster.  Others claim that they have “a pit in their stomach” in times of unbearable sadness, like the loss of a loved one.

These expressions relating emotional state and physical perception in the gut are commonplace and can be attributed to your body’s stress response.

You Can Get Involved!

Biomedical Sciences

3879955126_4417209ceb_oHey, readers! We want to hear from you!

In our new segment, “Ask a Scientist,” we’d like to answer your burning questions: don’t understand a scientific concept? Curious about life as a graduate student in the biomedical sciences?

Simply leave a comment on this post, or e-mail your question to lions-talk-science@psu.edu. A graduate student will address your query in a future blog!

We are also seeking guest blog posts from undergraduates who are conducting research in the biomedical sciences. What does your field already know about your work, and what are its bigger implications in medicine? For more information on how to contribute, visit the Contact page.


Food for Thought: Obesity as a Disease?


By: Andrew Huhn, 3rd year PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Program

3846131098_1c8abf8ecd_bIt’s no secret that America is getting bigger, and not for the better.

The American Heart Association estimates that there are about 157 million overweight or obese adults in the United States. Over the last few decades, eating trends include larger portions and larger calorie content, which ultimately lead to larger waistlines. While obesity was ruled a global epidemic by the World Health Organization in 1997, in June of this year the American Medical Association defined obesity by a new term: disease.

Now that the disease label has been applied, some may ask: why don’t we just make healthier food choices? It seems like the simple answer, but obesity may cause your brain to work against you.

The Brain in Your Gut

Biomedical Sciences

By: Alli Fries, 3rd year PhD candidate in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program


Credit: John A. Beal, via Wikimedia Commons

Generally, when people think about neuroscience, the image that comes to mind is the human brain. The brain—an oblong-shaped bulb with grooves and textures, which is reminiscent of a bowl of spaghetti. More ambitious folks might make it past the brain, moving as far as the spinal cord and acknowledging its worth for nervous system functioning. But very few people, if any, think about guts.