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/
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?"

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    Apr 12 2013: I see how there could be an evolutionary explanation for this. If you regard us as the result of evolution of life on earth from one cell , multi cell and to complex forms of life it could be that back in time the heart had a more complex role; as the brain appeared and evolved it took charge of those functions; maybe that gut feelings, love from hard, broken harts are some manifestations of ancient ways that we still carry in our genes. I am not a scientist but this thought crossed my mind while reading people's comments; I might be under the influence of David Christian's talk on the history of the world.
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      Apr 12 2013: Hi Anairda,

      Thanks for your comment! I like how you look at this concept from an evolutionary perspective. However, it seems that you are saying that while the brain evolves, the heart does not.I agree that as our society progressed, the brain has taken control of certain functions that in the past, might have been the task of our hearts. But this does not necessarily mean that this is the more "insightful way" of governing our lives.
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        Apr 13 2013: Actually I agree with you. Those feelings and knowledge we get from the heart/body must be way deeply rooted in our being since they are historically older on the evolutionary scale ; so they have to be more insightful but also more instinctual than rational pertaining more to the basic human needs of connection, security, fear...survival. The challenges of modern human societies with all their complexity require probably more of the rational. The thing is that society is evolving much faster than our biological beings can keep up with and adapt; I don't think either the brain or the hart evolved much in some thousands of years while the social evolution was tremendous. I also think that with all the advancements in human society the process of natural selection /evolution is totally altered so neither the heart or the brain's evolution will evolve independent of human's interference.
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          Apr 14 2013: You are right, society is evolving at a much faster pace than our biological systems can handle. I think this is a bit of a problem because we often forget about our "roots" due to the social progression. I find that we often focus more on social progression than evolving our brains and hearts. It is interesting to think about the brain and heart evolving with human interference. It illustrates how much power we actually have on our future.

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