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 15 2013: Hadar, I know that in our culture the heart is considered the symbol of emotion, but in your bioelectricity class, do you consider the heart the seat or source of emotion or feelings? What role for the heart and what role for the brain do you learn correspond to current neuroscientific or medical understanding of emotion or feeling?
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      Apr 15 2013: Hi Fritzie,

      In our bioelectricity class, we did not analyze the heart as the source of electrical activity associated with emotion or feelings. I think the spirit of Hadar's question is to open up the consideration of sources of electrical signal aside from the brain which could influence the way we perceive and interact with our surroundings.

      In other words, since the heart produces electrical signals just as the brain does, could there be some connection between the electrical activity in the heart and the electrical activity in the brain, as a sort of interference phenomenon? This could have implications on not just our emotions, but also our motor function and subconscious regulatory processes.
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        Apr 15 2013: Thank you, Osaze. You are thinking, then, in terms of normal pathways through which we interact with our surroundings.

        What confused me were the specific connection of brain in this discussion to the idea of intellectual priority, as if the brain was somehow uniquely intellectual and traits one might not think as intellectual might reside elsewhere.

        There have been references, for example, to EQ, as if that had some specific unappreciated connection to the heart.

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