Colonic Psychophysiology

Implications for Functional Bowel Disorders
  • Paul R. Latimer


That the gastrointestinal tract is responsive to a variety of phenomena in day-today experience is no longer seriously questioned. In the early part of the 19th century William Beaumont (1833) observed that changes in mood and behavior were associated with changes in the gastric mucosa of his famous fistula patient, Alexis St. Martin. Numerous subsequent observations on both animals (Bidder & Schmidt, 1852; Pavlov, 1910) and humans (Hornborg, 1904; Richet, 1878) demonstrated that the mere sight and smells of agreeable food could start the flow of salivary and gastric juices. It was, of course, Pavlov (1910) who made these observations the subject of precise and systematic science. He showed that auditory, visual, and tactile symbols associated with foods could elicit copious secretion of saliva in his experimental dogs and other meaningful experiences could interfere with this effect. Dogs which salivated copiously to conditional stimuli in the lab frequently failed to do so when called upon for a demonstration before an audience. Similarly, Pavlov observed that “psychic” secretion of gastric juice in dogs could be inhibited for a relatively long time after terrifying events such as the famous flood in his kennels. He inferred that meaningful experiences must compete in their effects on an end organ and, if in opposition, one or the other may predominate (Wolf & Welsh, 1972).


Ulcerative Colitis Irritable Bowel Syndrome Irritable Bowel Syndrome Patient Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Colonic Motility 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul R. Latimer
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavior Therapy and Research UnitTemple University Medical SchoolPhiladelphiaUSA

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