Unravelling the secrets of the vagus nerve will revolutionise medicine

AS I peered at its sinewy, tentacle-like tendrils, I thought the pale structure splayed on the table before me resembled a huge tapeworm, or perhaps a scrawny squid. Its lacklustre appearance didn’t match with the wonder of what I knew it to be: a human vagus nerve, the sensory superhighway that connects our brain to most of our vital organs and helps regulate everything from the movement of food through our intestines to the steady beating of our heart.