Did you know that the heart contains a brain in its own right? What do researchers mean when they talk about heart-brain interactions? Why is it important to you?
Researchers at the Institute of HeartMath and other organizations have shown that the human heart, in addition to its other functions, actually possesses the equivalent of its own brain, called the heart brain, which interacts and communicates with the head brain.
When I first heard about this, it intuitively made sense. Then as I delved into the research, it really confirmed what I have felt for a long time: that the heart has its own way of knowing.
Until recently, scientists assumed and most of us were taught that it was only the brain that sent information and issued commands to the heart, but now we know that it works both ways. The heart and head communicate via a number of pathways. Between them they continually exchange critical information that influences how the body functions.
Dr. J. Andrew Armour first introduced the term heart brain in 1991. Armour showed that the heart’s complex intrinsic nervous system qualified as a “little brain.” This heart brain, explains Science of the Heart, published by Institute of HeartMath, “is an intricate network of several types of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells, like those found in the brain proper. Research has shown that the heart communicates to the brain in four major ways: neurologically (through the transmission of nerve impulses), biochemically (via hormones and neurotransmitters), biophysically (through pressure waves) and energetically (through electromagnetic field interactions).” Its elaborate circuitry enables it to act independently of the cranial brain – to learn, remember, and even feel and sense.
Next – Heart-Brain Communication Pathways