TED Conversations

Hadar Cohen

Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

This conversation is closed.

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/
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/expphysiol.2007.041178/full
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
"intelligent?"

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Apr 11 2013: Yes, I think intelligence is distributed throughout the body, and only now is evidence beginning to catch up with intuition in this and many other areas. This opens up the wider implications in the gulf of understanding - trust even - between intuition and science.

    There is good reason why we refer to "the gut" for instinct and "the heart" for emotion, feeling and love, and there is extraordinary evidence from heart transplant patients, who relate that their emotions and interests changed post-operatively, to those of their donor. This phenomenon, known as "cellular memory" has been researched by Dr David Armour at the University of Montreal:

    http://www.ccjm.org/content/74/Suppl_1/S48.full.pdf

    This should come as no surprise, since the heart has been found to contain 40,000 neurons, so is in effect a small "brain".

    As a supplementary to your question, it's worth noting that the gut also contains neurons. This from Scientific American:

    "The enteric nervous system uses more than 30 neurotransmitters, just like the brain, and in fact 95 percent of the body's serotonin is found in the bowels"

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=gut-second-brain

    This could mean that there is a link between the "brain" in the gut and disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Depression - and perhaps the misplaced role of SSRIs in prolonging the presence of serotonin in the gut rather than the brain in our head.
    • thumb
      Apr 11 2013: Good information Allan!

      It does not come as a surprise to me. New research is reinforcing these ideas, which actually go back to ancient times, and demonstrate the interconnectivity with all parts of the body/mind systems.

      The ancient practices of yoga, acupuncture, reflexology, etc. and the not so ancient practices of reiki, iridology, etc. are based on the interconnecting body/mind systems:>)
      • thumb
        Apr 11 2013: Hi Colleen. You are right - It never ceases to amaze me too, that many ancient wisdoms are only now being 'rediscovered' by modern science.
        • thumb
          Apr 11 2013: Yes indeed Allan.....it is called "New Age"......"The New Psychology".......LOL:>)
      • thumb
        Apr 11 2013: Hi Colleen,

        Very interesting that you connected this new research with ancient practice. I find that we often think of ancient practices as antiquated, however, they can definitely open up areas of knowledge for us. It is easy to dismiss the past by claiming that they were less knowledgeable than us, but human intuition proves that we can actually learn quite a bit from analyzing their conventions.
        • thumb
          Apr 11 2013: I agree Hadar, that some people would like to dismiss ancient practices, and perhaps some of them SHOULD be dismissed. However, there are many things that were KNOWN by people in ancient times that are still very relevant in modern times, and I think it benefits us to build on that knowledge, which seemed to be very natural for people in ancient times.

          The interconnectivity of the body/mind systems seems to have been very well known in ancient times, and for awhile, we dismissed those beliefs in favor of modern technology and science. Now, we are re-discovering the connections again, and in my humble perception, ancient wisdom AND modern technology all fits together!......I LOVE it!
      • thumb
        Apr 12 2013: Colleem,

        I really like how you connect ancient wisdom and modern technology. It is a very unique relation that many overlook. I would love to explore more what this connection really entails of.

        But you are right, the inter-connectivity of the body and mind has been a concept that was very widespread in ancient times. It is amazing how they viewed the body as directly affected by the mind. I think this type of awareness of the effects of our systems is highly important in understanding how humans actually function.
        • thumb
          Apr 17 2013: Hadar
          I agree...it is important to understand the body/mind connections, and I believe in using ALL availabe information:>)

          I had some interesting “seeds” planted at a very young age.

          My parents had a huge garden, chickens, fresh eggs, meat, fresh veggies, herbs and fruits. We ate fresh from the garden in summer, and canned food for winter months....healthy!

          My mom LOVED “Prevention Magazine”, which introduced many alternative practices and ideas for keeping the body healthy, and I found it fascinating:>)

          I began working at age 13, and one of my most significant jobs, was at age 17, as an operating room technician…assisting for major surgeries…I got to observe the interconnecting systems of live human bodies, and that was a HUGE learning experience.

          Jump ahead to age 30, when I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease in the spine, which is generally a progressively disabling condition. It is common as we age, but I was only 30. After taking pain meds, being in traction and wearing a neck brace, none of which relieved the pain, a fusion of the spine was advised. Well, I had seen THAT done, and was not impressed! I started exploring alternative practices, and of course everything I had been exposed to started to come into play.

          As I explored holistic practices I decided to strengthen the muscular system to support the degenerating spine. It wasn’t “work”, because I started playing tennis, volleyball, sailboat racing, and dancing, as well as yoga….all of which strengthened the upper body. For 10 years, I strengthened the body and mind with alternative practices. I knew that the DDD would not heal, and I managed it pretty well.

          What I didn’t know, was that what I was learning about the body/mind would be used again, when, at age 43 I sustained a near fatal head/brain injury from a horseback riding accident. Upon regaining consciousness after an emergency craniotomy, my family and I were told I would never function normally again. Time to rebuild..again
    • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Apr 11 2013: Hi Allan,

      Thanks for posting all these resources, I really appreciate it! These new research findings are fascinating as they definitely make us question what exactly is the function of various body parts and how they interact with each other.

      I like how you broadened the question of the relationship between intuition and science. This is something I think about quite often, and I really think should be discussed more.
    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        Apr 13 2013: Hi Don,

        Thanks for that video link. It is fascinating.

        I'd like to take a look at all four parts, so may take me some time!

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.