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 14 2013: Hi Hadar,
    After learning more about the heart, I definitely feel the heart is a bit underrated when it comes to information processing. You mentioned evidence that the cariodelectromagnetic field can affect people several feet away and I think that is truly remarkable. It makes you really reconsider phrases like “the vibe coming from a person”. If the heart can transfer energy between human beings, that could have an enormous impact on the way we perceive human interactions. Perhaps the heart really can get an understanding of another person and sense certain features that our brain does not pick up on. There are many different types of intelligence and although the brain may be responsible for our primary source of knowledge interpretation, I believe there is a level of intelligence distributed throughout the body in ways we have yet to understand.
    • Apr 15 2013: G'day Neema.... I would add the word KARMA (what goes around comes around) perhaps no evidence ..as yet but plenty of believers.

      Sir Francis Drake was told if he sailed over the horizon his ship would fall off he earth. Just as well he did not believe it eh ?
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      Apr 15 2013: Neema- I also thought of the act of getting a certain "vibe" from a person when reading this question. I think the most interesting part of this question is the open-ended view of intelligence within these bounds- our bodies ability to transmit and react to cardioelectromagnetic fields, once it becomes a true perfectly measurable quantity, will definitely become a factor when we consider the relative intelligence of a person.

      I also definitely agree that there are levels of intelligence that are not yet quantifiable or measurable and so we (as humans) don't really understand the full extent to which humans in general experience and act upon the world, which is a bit scary to think about.
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        Apr 16 2013: What sorts of intelligence do you think we can obtain from the heart?

        My take on this is that the heart is a muscle. Therefore, how can the heart have any intelligence? Looking at the basics, the brain is made up of neural cells while the heart is made up of muscle cells. These are intrinsically different. I really don't think that our heart can have any sort of intelligence. If it could, then could our leg muscles have intelligence? I understand that there are nodes that send electrical signals in the heart, but they are merely there to keep the heart contracting at a steady pace.

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