How the Heart Is Like a ‘Little Brain’: Which Is Really in Control?


Modern science has verified what the ancients believed about one’s heart—that the heart is a center of higher wisdom. It can actually remember things and it functions much like the brain.

The heart’s structure is similar to that of the brain: it has an intricate network of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins, and support cells.

“There is a brain in the heart, metaphorically speaking,” said Dr. Rollin McCraty of the HeartMath Institute, a non-profit that offers treatments based on the connection between heart and brain. “The heart contains neurons and ganglia that have the same function as those of the brain, such as memory. It’s an anatomical fact,” he said.

“What people don’t know that well is that the heart actually sends more information to the brain [than the brain does to the heart],” he added.

Dr. J. Andrew Armour coined the term “heart brain” in 1991; he has also called the heart a “little brain.”

According to Harvard Medical School, chemical “conversations” between the heart and the brain affect both organs. Depression, stress, loneliness, a positive outlook, and other psychosocial factors influence the heart. The health of the heart can also affect the brain and the mind.

As neuro-cardiology (the study of the brain and heart connection) has developed, researchers have found that negative emotions throw both heart rhythms and brainwave patterns out of sync.

Stress responses, for example, take a toll on the body, contributing to high blood pressure, the development of artery-clogging plaque, and brain changes that may contribute to anxiety and depression, according to Harvard Medical School.

Conversely, when a person experiences positive emotions, heart rhythms and brainwave patterns are harmonious and coherent.

Heart as an Emotional Center

The heart as an organ is linked to the concept of heart as an emotional center. The heart sends messages through physical pathways to the brain, which are then interpreted as emotion.

McCraty explained: “Heart beats are similar to morse code, with these messages reflecting one’s emotional state.”

McCraty has worked as a psycho-physiologist for nearly 30 years. One technique he works with through the HeartMath Institute is “heart-focused breathing.”

While breathing deeply, the patient directs attention to the heart, which “shifts the physiology and facilitates changes in the body’s rhythms,” McCraty said.

Heart and brain wave patterning has been measured to observe the effects of this technique, showing greater coherence.

*Image of a heart and brain via Shutterstock



  • mbraining

    Yes, McCraty is right, there is a brain in the heart. There’s also another in the gut, and it’s huge with approx. 500 Milliion neurons. About the size of a cat’s brain, and take a look at how intelligent cats are… that’s how much intelligence you can get from that many neurons!

    Informed by these recent Neuroscience findings about the discovery of functional and complex neural networks or ‘brains’ in the heart and gut, we’ve completed 2.5 years of behavioral modeling research on the core competencies of these brains and how they communicate and integrate with the head brain. We’ve written about our findings and the models and techniques in our recently published book ‘mBraining’. See http://www.mbraining.com for more info and a heap of free resournces, mp3′s etc.

    For example, one of the many things we’ve uncovered in our work is that much of intuition is processed in both the heart and gut brains, and indeed the gut brain goes through a sleeping cycle each night that mimics and integrates with the equivalent of the head brain. When the head brain is dreaming during REM sleep, the gut brain is undergoing RGM (Rapid Gut Movement) sleep. The research indicates that it is during these periods, that intuitions are being communicated from the gut and heart, via the vagus channels, to the head. There are lots of distinctions and techniques that come out of these insights and that are directly applicable to coaching, training and evolutionary change.

    I hope you find our work and its parallels with what you’ve written about in this great article as fascinating as we do.

  • Nyesha Langley

    The heart, a very important organ for the evolution of consciousness (see David Icke) one cannot overlook the impact of wireless technology (microwaves) on the body, it affects it at every level: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. A ECG on an electrosensitive person can record when WiFi is switched on as the heart rate increases (we are all electrosensitive as we are electrical beings who’s bodies are in tune with the natural electromagnetism of the earth). I find that as well as being made ill by microwave radiation it also stops me feeling love, I feel anxiety and fear, WiFi makes me suicidal if I am in it too long, I guess that is why it is being placed everywhere. This deployment of wireless technology along with the many other poisonous techniques like chemtrails, is I believe not only for population reduction but to keep humanity from reaching higher levels of awareness. Watch the new internet TV station http://www.thepeoplesvoice.tv/watchnow


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