Vigorous controlled movement of the intestinal wall is essential for the two basic properties of segmentation or mixing and peristalsis or aboral propulsion (Figure 2). The two properties are interdependent since neither segmentation nor peristalsis alone would result in optimal digestion and absorption. The peristaltic export of chyme from the duodenal segment in an aboral direction is only effective following considerable segmentation mixing to optimise the homogeneous distribution of digestive juices digestion.

Although the neural basis of peristalsis has been acceptably modeled, answers to basic questions concerning the receptors involved and the occurrence of reverse or retroperistalsis in particular circumstances remain elusive. The precise sensory messages that are needed to switch motility from segmentation to peristalsis and vice versa are also unclear, except that the signals must be both chemical and physical since they are related to the passage and characteristics of the nutrients along the gastrointestinal tract.

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