TED Conversations

Hadar Cohen

Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

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Is the heart overlooked when it comes to intelligence?

The center of the nervous system, the brain, has been popularly defined as the fundamental core of intellectual activity. Yet, in my Bioelectricity class with Professor Nina Tandon, we learned about recent research suggesting that information processing in the body may in fact be more distributed.

For example, there is increasing evidence suggesting that the cardioelectromagenetic field can actually affect human beings in close proximity.These signals are stronger in amplitude when in direct contact, but are still detectable up to several feet away from the source. Through these interactions, the heart transfers energies between human beings. The heart can therefore be characterized as the engine for distributing and controlling energy of the human body.

These extraordinary results illustrate that the heart is not only responsible for blood regulations, but is also a very powerful intelligence system.

This made me wonder, could intelligence be distributed through the body in ways we might not expect? Could this information sent to the brain perhaps even influence emotional states? Or provide insight into some of the unexplained links between "mental" and "bodily" diseases (eg Alzheimer's and cardiac disease etc)?

See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3547419/
and http://books.google.com/books?id=pvkpdNHhI6cC for more details

Given that the heart and other organs are frequently excluded from the
intellectual discussion, I would like to ask the Ted community, how do
these new findings affect how we view intelligence? How will our
interactions with each other differ if we view more of our bodies as


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  • Apr 11 2013: and does the heart also interpret these signals? in much the same way as a compression wave is nothing even when it hits the eardrum until it is interpreted by the brain, i'd be surprised if the heart was able to do anything with this received signal other than send it to the brain.
    • Apr 11 2013: i would think they work in tandem. It differs from the idea "its all in your head". it explains alot with human interactions.
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      Apr 11 2013: Hi Ben,

      It is interesting that you think that the heart is not capable of processing signals and can only transfer them to the brain. I like to think that the heart can analyze signals in ways that we don't understand yet. Rather than the heart being subservient to the brain, I believe that the heart and the brain are connected in a mutual intimate relationship.
      • Apr 11 2013: agreed. its most definitely worthy. when reading some of those links im afraid they were a bit much for myself but i did pickup something about tonic muscles and how they are very rare in mammals but found in reptiles. what would be the connection or the reason for slow reaction to stimuli, if im understanding it correctly?
      • Apr 11 2013: that might sound nice and of course anyone is free to think this way if they wish, but exactly what reasoning leads you to think it?
        the heart is mostly muscle, which contracts when it receives an electrochemical signal from the brain - it's a reaction not a decision. where in the heart do you imagine these parts that can analyze anything could be?

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