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: Hi Hadar

    I feel that indeed our bodies are a spectacular creation which we don't use our minds to decide how they should operate. They instinctively do what they need to, to survive and to accommodate to conditions.

    Generally we as humans cannot really has the level of control of our bodies to harness the capabilities that exists, though i know that in cases such as monks who sit in meditation practicing for years can do feats which we cannot totally comprehend, though they can due to they level of control they have over their bodies.

    Although there exists intelligence in our bodies which we don't fully appreciate, we can progress in this aspect if we are prepared to dedicate more time to it.

    I appreciate your thoughts on this.
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      Apr 11 2013: HI Yusuf!

      It seems you are saying that our bodies are actually superior to our brains. This is a fascinating idea to think about. Our society constantly appears to dictate otherwise, with phrases such as "mind over body".

      I am curious about how we as humans can control our bodies in order to appreciate the complexities of our intelligence. I do think though that we do need to dedicate more time to uncovering more about these concepts.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
      • Apr 13 2013: Thanks for the question. (I would've asked it myself if I weren't afraid of it being deleted for being too new-agey & unfounded.)
        I'm waffling on whether or not people believe in the brain over the body... I'm thinking this specifically because of the quote: "People may forget the things you did, but they'll never forget how you made them feel," (or something like that.)

        "... as humans can control our bodies "
        Maybe if we ease-up on the idea of "control" would help. [sentence broken, you get the idea.]
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      Apr 12 2013: I agree with Yusaf, there are certain people who are capable of controlling our bodies and I liked the example he gave with the Buddhist Monks! But the average person doesn't have the patience and drive to tap into that inner power and capabilities. Our bodies are wondrous things that we continue to learn more and more about each day, and this question is no exception. I don't know the electrical and biological anatomy of the human body as well as I would like, but Allan and Colleen stated below, it comes as no surprise that the heart "controls" our emotions. There are thousands of neurons found in the muscle mass of the heart! And there are so many different forms of exercise and rehabilitation that focuses on this body/mind relationship that it can't simply be ignore.

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