To support the view that cognition (and any study of cognition) is just a point of view on all activities and not limited to high level philosophically respectable thought and reasoning, I found a paper which involved inserting an inflatable polyethylene bag into people’s rectums as they were being scanned using MRI (Adeyemi et al, 2005). The BOLD signal was recorded as the device was inflated, first without scanning to determine for each person when they could “feel something” and before they reported any pain. Participants were asked to squeeze their sphincter too.

Interesting result: there was more activation in the anterior cingulate of women than of men during the inflation, “suggesting cognition-related recruitment” (this goes again the cognition as a viewpoint view, but onwards). However, the authors note that “the gender differences seen during nonnoxious rectal distension may be due to additional stimulation that can potentially arise from contiguous structures such as the posterior vaginal wall.”


Adeyemi Lawal, Mark Kern, Arthi Sanjeevi, Candy Hofmann, and Reza Shaker (2005) Cingulate cortex: a closer look at its gut-related functional topography. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 289(4): G722-G730.