A few thoughts on our second brain

I can literally envision all you regular readers rolling your eyes at yet another “brainy” post and thinking: “Tacomob, haven’t you written more than enough about the brain already?  Isn’t there some other topic on your mind?”

Of course there is, and that’s why I am writing about our second brainthe one below our shoulders.

Ok, I know that that sounds absurd, but bear with me nonetheless.

Can you recall a situation where you were extremely happy, or in love, or both?  And how was that feeling?  Did you have butterflies in the brain, or in the stomach?Our Second brain and intuition

Situations like these demonstrate that there are processes in the vicinity of our stomach that impact our emotions.

But is the gastrointestinal area the only receiver of signals from the brain and does this area affect the processes in our brain?

How “smart” especially our intestines are, illustrates the large number of neurons that are located there.  The number of neurons in the gut is greater than in the entire so-called peripheral nervous system, which transmits the information from the body to the brain and back.  Altogether there are more than 100 million nerve cells in the intestines.

An important function of these neurons is the complex control of the digestive and immune system.  We likely evolved this intricate web of nerves to perform digestion and excretion “on site”, rather than remotely from our brain through the middleman of the spinal cord.

And there is more.  The nervous system in the gut makes use of the same neurotransmitters as the brain; these neurotransmitters transmit information from one nerve cell to another.  So, apparently, processes in the gutwhich can be affected by dieteven influence complex behaviours.

Since this second brain communicates via the same neurotransmitters as the big brain, processes in the gut do certainly influence the big brain, and thus, our thoughts.

What do all of these have to do with investing and prospering slowly?

Nothing directly; nevertheless, quite a lot indirectly

…since about 90% of your serotonin (neurochemical for happiness) is in the gut and not in the brain;
…thus in many cases, the decisions of your gut are much more important for your overall happiness;
…and happiness is a very strong emotion which certainly influences the decisions on your investments.

It’s our second brain that makes us happy; hence, don’t ignore your gut feelings, and do watch what you feed this second brain with.

A word of caution (or many in fact):  Don’t trust your intuitions in areas where you have yet to have ample experience.  Intuitions can be quite accurate in a predictable environment where there is lots of repetition and quick feedback on one’s choices.  For a relative newcomer (less than 10 years of experience) the stock market is not such an environment.  Intuition can be a good input for decision making, but that alone is not good enough.  It might be biased and, therefore, should be only one among many considerations for important decisions.

Want to “test” your intuition?  Then, have a look here.

And one more thing, when it comes to the exponential function in general—and interest rates in particular—don’t trust your intuition, you don’t have any in that field.  Accept it and use an online calculator for visual aid instead.

 

“Intuition is the highest form of intelligence, transcending all individual abilities and skills.” — Sylvia Clare

“Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.” — Jonas Saik

6 Comments

  1. Hi Andy,

    Your post about the neurons in the gut is interesting. It confirms my “gut feeling” that my intestinal problem is a direct result of my mental well-being many years ago.

    Whenever I have my intestinal pain (still have nowadays), I meditate and it helps more than the medicine.

    Anyway, now I know my gut feeling more. Thanks.

    • Hi Rolf,

      I guess it takes two brains for all-round well-being then.

      Lucky you, with practicing meditation you save on those extremely expensive supplements that Frugal Daddy was writing about.

  2. Hi Andy

    Interesting. No wonder supplements relating to gut are extremely expensive than others.

  3. Andy,

    Ah! That’s where these words like – gut feeling. gut wrenching – came from.

    As a man, I would think I’m more driven by that organ below my belt (I wouldn’t call it a brain though).

    Perhaps that’s why in some cultures, they practice abstinence.

    The signals and impulses from that organ are a huge distraction when I want to think straight…

    LOL!

    • You too? Puuh, and I always thought I am a strange guy always getting distracted that easily.
      Our hope is that is going to get better with age. Way better actually. Starting at 75 or so. I was told. LOL
      I guess we both have to cope with those distractions a bit longer then. A problem shared is a problem halved…

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