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Dig Dis Sci. 2000 Jun;45(6):1160-5.

Intestinal reactivity to words with emotional content and brain information processing in irritable bowel syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Psychosomatic and Behavioural Medicine, National Hospital, Oslo, Norway.


The intestinal reactivity to emotional experiences is poorly understood. We therefore compared healthy controls with nonpsychiatric irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients and IBS patients with comorbid phobic anxiety disorders with respect to rectal wall reactivity during exposure to everyday words with emotional content. We found that 70.3% of the subjects responded either with increased or decreased rectal tone during exposure to anger words, 75.0% when exposed to sadness words, and 76.6% when exposed to anxiety words. We also investigated event-related potentials in the brain to the same stimuli. We observed significant group differences in the frontal brain to sadness (P < 0.001) and anxiety (P = 0.013) distracter words, and threshold significant group difference to anger (P = 0.053) distracter words. Rectal wall reactivity during the word series significantly predicted frontal amplitude to the same word series, indicating a close interaction among mind, brain, and gut.

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