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"Butterflies in the stomach"


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#1 Cap'n Refsmmat

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Posted 1 December 2006 - 02:43 AM

This is probably one of those simple questions that nobody's thought to ask before.

Why is it that when humans are very nervous, they have the "butterflies in my stomach" feeling? What neurological system makes that happen?
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#2 ecoli

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Posted 1 December 2006 - 03:10 AM

I thought it was hormonal, not neurological.
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#3 Cap'n Refsmmat

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Posted 1 December 2006 - 03:15 AM

I wasn't sure either, so I just stuck it in "Medicine" rather than a specific forum.
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#4 Glider

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Posted 1 December 2006 - 08:55 AM

It's the physical sentation resulting from elevation in sympathetic activity in the autonomic nervous system.

When you percieve a potential threat (i.e. a challanging situation where both your ability to meet the challange and the outcome are uncertain), your brain increases its levels of arousal in order to meet the challange. As most of the challanges we evolved to meet were physical, this elevation in arousal is accompanied by physiological changes associated with activity in the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system, resulting in physical arousal (fight or flight response).

The fight/flight response in not all or nothing. There are degrees, according to the degree of challange/threat and how much importance the individual attaches to the outcome. So, a situation that presents a challange, like an interview, will produce the same sympathetic responses as a threat to life, but to a lesser degree.

Sympathetic arousal causes physical changes in preparation for expending energy. Some of these changes involve the gut: Digestion shuts down, and large veins in the gut contract as blood supply is rerouted away from the gut to deep muscle where it is more needed. Also, heart rate and respiration increase, as does blood pressure.

These physical changes, along with the overall increase in arousal and levels of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are likely to be the cause of the 'butterfly' sensations.
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"The strongest knowledge (that of the total unfreedom of the human will) is nonetheless the poorest in success, for it always has the strongest opponent: Human vanity" (Nietzsche, 1879).

#5 RyanJ

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Posted 1 December 2006 - 09:03 AM

@Glider: Isn't it related to the fact that when the fight or flight response kicks in blood is diverted from the unnecessary organs including the stomach. This reduced blood flow leads to the feeling of "Butterflies in the stomach" due to the reduced blood flow and this oxygen and glucose availability to the cells in the stomach?
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#6 Glider

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Posted 1 December 2006 - 09:36 AM

@Glider: Isn't it related to the fact that when the fight or flight response kicks in blood is diverted from the unnecessary organs including the stomach. This reduced blood flow leads to the feeling of "Butterflies in the stomach" due to the reduced blood flow and this oxygen and glucose availability to the cells in the stomach?

Yep, as I said: "Some of these changes involve the gut: Digestion shuts down, and large veins in the gut contract as blood supply is rerouted away from the gut to deep muscle where it is more needed...These physical changes, along with the overall increase in arousal and levels of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are likely to be the cause of the 'butterfly' sensations."
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"The strongest knowledge (that of the total unfreedom of the human will) is nonetheless the poorest in success, for it always has the strongest opponent: Human vanity" (Nietzsche, 1879).

#7 RyanJ

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Posted 1 December 2006 - 09:43 AM

Yep, as I said: "Some of these changes involve the gut: Digestion shuts down, and large veins in the gut contract as blood supply is rerouted away from the gut to deep muscle where it is more needed...These physical changes, along with the overall increase in arousal and levels of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are likely to be the cause of the 'butterfly' sensations."


I thought as much, thanks for the confirmation. :-)
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#8 Glider

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Posted 2 December 2006 - 08:09 AM

De nada :-)
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"The strongest knowledge (that of the total unfreedom of the human will) is nonetheless the poorest in success, for it always has the strongest opponent: Human vanity" (Nietzsche, 1879).

#9 weknowthewor

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 08:40 AM

I do experience it sometimes....
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#10 mariajones

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 12:23 PM

Hello
Deep breathing exercises.
Breath in deep, hold it for 4 seconds, release slowly and repeat until you start feeling calmer.
Visualize and practice. Spend time visualizing the activity many times before the actual competition. This will give you the feeling that you've done it all before.
Valerian and chamomele tea. 3 cups. One cup per half hour before the competition. An excelent relaxer without altering your mental clarity...
GOOD LUCK!
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gesundheitsvorsorge

#11 nhmusic

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 05:15 PM

Are there any potential adrenal fatigue issues that could result? I've had butterflies for 48 hours straight.
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