A Short Modern History of the Heart Brain Connection
Walter Cannon 1871-1945
Dr. Cannon was a professor at Harvard Medical School for four decades, and then the author of internationally standard works on physiology. He is credited with leaving the world a firsthand account of what goes on in the hearts and minds of pioneers in medical research, and Fr. Cannon’s life and work are seen as both an intellectual and moral answer to the question: “How shall one live?”
Displaying his conviction through example, Dr. Cannon thought that it is the moral responsibility of each scientist to be active as a citizen and leader in both the political and spiritual decisions of their time. It was Dr. Cannon’s hope that the degree of scientific insight and healing power achieved in medicine may be in time paralleled by the social sciences for the body politics. (Dr. Cannon web)
Summary of some of Dr. Cannon’s research:
- He described and proved the functions of the adrenal medulla and its allied sympathetic nervous system in the maintenance of homeostasis.
- He shed light on the role of the hypothalamus in emotional states and proved the chemical mediation of autonomic nerve impulses across the synapse.
- He contributed to the development of modern psychosomatic medicine through his research, which was presented in his book Bodily Changes in Pain, Hunger, Fear, and Rage.
- He closely observed the nature of traumatic shock, paving the way to a better understanding of this threatening emergency, suggesting that successful treatment must focus on restoring the circulatory system.
- He clarified the pathways of emotional responses, and proved the error of the James-Lange theory, which thought that the autonomic nervous system creates physiological responses like muscle tension, increased heart rate, perspiration etc. in response to experiences in the world. James-Lange thought that these responses create emotion, which were considered the result of the feelings generated because of physiological changes. Lange specifically thought that vasomotor changes are emotions.
Dr. Canon’s research was the first to show that changes in our emotions are followed by changes in heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and digestion, and that these changes are predictable. When we are stirred up, our sympathetic nervous system gets our body ready to either fight or run away, in quieter moments our parasympathetic systems calms us down. Dr. Cannon saw that the autonomic nervous system, and all of the physiological responses of the body, followed the brain’s instructions to a certain stimulus.
A scientist with heart ….
With a strong conviction that in a democracy, science needs to be understood by the average person, Dr. Cannon wrote The Wisdom of the Body in the early 1930s. This book is a description of the miracle of the human body, and its ability to preserve internal equilibrium – what he called homeostasis – using complicated mechanisms to maintain balance in response to the changing conditions of the exterior world without conscious direction of the human being.
John and Beatrice Lacey (1915/1919 to 1989/1894)
Through 20 years of research from 1960 to the end of 1970, the Laceys observed that the heart communicated with the brain in ways that deeply influence both our perception of the world and our reaction to it. In contrast to the research of Dr. Cannon, they noticed early in their research that our autonomic nervous system and bodily responses did not always listen – that in fact the heart had its own “ideas” that often diverted from what the autonomic nervous system was directing.
The Laceys conducted their research under grants from the United States National Institute for Health, and although the academic world ignored their findings when they occurred, the new field of Neurocardiology is proving their research now.
resource: page 66 Pearch, Joseph Chilton. 2002. The Biology of Transcendence, A Blue Print for the Human Spirit. Rochester, Vermont. Park Street Press
The Heart as a Hormone Gland
The heart was reclassified as a hormone gland in 1983 when the regulation of hormone that effects blood vessel, kidneys, adrenal glands and many regions of the brain were discovered. The heart also secrets oxytocin- the hormone called the love/bonding hormone. This hormone is now thought to be involved in cognition, tolerance, adaptation, sexual and maternal behaviors, learning of social cues and long lasting bonding. Research has shown that concentrations of oxytocin are as high in the heart as they are in the brain.
resource: McCraty, Rollin Ph.D. 2003. Heart-Brain Neurodynamics, Boulder Creek, CA. Publication No. 03-2015, HeartMath Research Center, Institute of HeartMath.
Dr. J, Andrew Armour
On of the first in the new field of Neurocardiology was Dr. Armour, who presented his work on the idea of the heart brain in 1991. On the physical level we call the parts of this “brain”: neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells – just like in the brain. Dr. Armour presented that the brain can learn, remember, feel, and sense. It is the fact that the heart has its own nervous system that is active independent of the brain or nervous system that supports this independent function. This independent nervous system is also why we can transplant a heart. Under normal conditions the heart communicates with the brain via the nerve fibers running through the vagus nerve and the spinal column. When a heart is transplanted those nerve fibers don’t reconnect for quite some tine – if at all – yet the heart can function in the new body due to its own intrinsic nervous system.
resource: McCraty, Rollin Ph.F. 2003. Heart-Brain Neurodynamics , Boulder Creek, CA. Publication No. 03-2015, HeartMath Research Center, Institute of HeartMath.
The history of academic definition of the term “Emotional Intelligence” dates back to 1985, when graduate student Wayne Payne used the term in his doctorial dissertation title. The next use of the term occurred in 1990 in the work of two American university professors, John Mayer and Peter Salovey, who published journal articles that focused on scientific methods of measuring the differences in people’s ability in the area of emotions. Since this time these who professors have continued to develop their ideas, including two tests that attempt to measure what the authors call “emotional intelligence”, which looks at ability to identify feelings, identifying the feelings of others and ability to solve problems concerning emotional issues. This work has been held in the academic community, and hasn’t reached the attention of the general public. The work of New York writer Daniel Goleman is the most one most often associated with the term “emotional intelligence”. (Steve P1)
Daniel Goleman was doing research in 1994 and into 1995 in preparation to write a book on “emotional literacy” – he was visiting schools to see what they were doing in terms of teaching emotional literacy, and was doing a lot of reading about emotions. Then he came across the work of Meyer and Salvoey, and then name of his book changed to “Emotional Intelligence”. (Steve P2) Goleman’s book, “Emotional Intelligence” was published in 1995, and was in very short time an international bestseller. Goleman was on numerous popular television shows, he started a consulting practice, created a consortium and designed a number of products and services that corporations could purchase to promote emotional intelligence within their companies. Goleman also published another book that was directed at the business market that listed 25 skill, abilities and competencies of emotional intelligence. Some claim that Goleman has cashed in on the popularity of the concept of emotional intelligence, and has been ignoring the research that has been ongoing concerning this topic. (Steve P2) Researchers Mayer and Salovey have been much more cautious than Goleman in terms of predicting what emotional intelligence means – both in terms of the practical application of the concepts, and how measurement and skill acquisition might influence success or happiness.
in 1991 Mayer and Salovey offered a definition of emotional intelligence as having four branches, and in 1997, Mayer and Salovey expanded these definitions.
Four Branches of Emotional Intelligence
- Perception Appraisal and Expression of Emotion
- Emotional Facilitation of Thinking
- Understanding and Analyzing Emotions; Employing Emotional Knowledge
- Reflective Regulation of Emotions to Promote Emotional and Intellectual Growth.
Avid Caruso joined the work of Mayer and Salovey, and in 2004 the three suggested the following four branches of definition for emotional intelligence:
- Emotional Perception: the ability to accurately identify emotions in faces, music, and stories.
- Emotional Facilitation of Thought: the ability to relate emotions to other mental sensations like taste and colour – such as in artwork, and to use awareness of emotion in reasoning and problem solving.
- Emotional Understanding: the ability to solve emotional problems such as discerning which emotions are similar, or opposite, and what their relationships suggest.
- Emotional Management: the ability to stay open to emotions in order to capture the wisdom of our feelings, and the ability to understand the implication of social acts on emotions, and to regulate emotions in self and others.
(Reference is available in Selecting a Measure of Emotional Intelligence: The Case for Ability Scales, 2000.)
Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso have suggested that emotional intelligence is a true form of intelligence, and that they are the first to scientifically measure it in their research work. (Mayer and Cobb, 2000.) There has been, and continues to be, controversy within the emotional intelligence arena; one can imagine that the popular science model of promotions via book sales, consulting services, and slick programs for bother schools and work environments can quickly leave scientific rigor behind (if they were connected with it in the beginning). Concern has been voiced that educational systems are too quick to employ schemes and programs credited with improving emotional intelligence, often with the goal of having better behaved students, without actually questioning the science that stands behind the ideas and programs. Some worry that the very students that one would hope would be encouraged by this approach may in face be turned off by the blatant and overbearing positivism of the programs – the age old problem of thinking that teaching students the words for emotions means that we have given them the tools for self reflections and development. (Mayer article)
To understand emotional intelligence from a scientific perspective, Mayer offers the following definition on his website:
…There are many possible definitions of emotional intelligence, and many definitions can be found on the Internet. Many of these definitions stem from the popularizations of emotional intelligence found in the popular press and in popular books…
A clear and scientifically useful definition of emotional intelligence, however, is recognizable because it takes the terms emotion and intelligence seriously. That is, the meaning of emotional intelligence has something specific to do with the intelligent intersection of the emotions and thoughts. For example:
Emotional Intelligence represents an ability to validly reason with emotions and to use emotions to enhance thought.
A more formal definition is…
We define EI as the capacity to reason about emotions, and of emotions to enhance thinking. It includes the abilities to accurately perceive emotios, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.
Emotion. In this model, emotion refers to a feeling state (including physiological responses and cognitions) that conveys information about relationships. For example, happiness is a feeling state that also conveys information about relationships – typically, that one would like to join with others. Similarly, fear is a feeling state that corresponds to a relationship – the urge to flee others.
Intelligence. In this model, intelligence refers to the capacity to reason validly about information.
This use of the term emotional intelligence in this fashion is consistent with scientific literature in the fields of intelligence, personality psychology, and emotions.
Verbal intelligence concerns the mental ability to reason with and about verbal information, and of verbal knowledge to enhance thought.
Spatial intelligence concerns the mental ability to reason with and about spatial information (i.e., the shape of objects and their orientation in space), and of spatial knowledge to enhance thought.
resource: Jack Meyer article http://uhn.edu/emotional_intelligence/ei%20What%20is@20EI/ei%20fourbranch.thm
Emotional intelligence appears to have a scientific stream and a popular stream. The scientific stream shows concern for the methodical unfolding of knowledge based on research, and has developed an ability model as a basis of a testing tool to measure emotional intelligence. Whereas the popular stream has developed self-assessment tools, the scientific stream has developed quantitative tests based on abilities that a person can demonstrate. The popular stream has had great impact on the general public’s awareness of emotional intelligence through the media, corporate programs, and initiatives in schools. These books and programs have often been created by, or upon lay people’s interpretation of other people’s research, and often mix personality traits and behaviors linked to them with ideas of emotional intelligence.
Steve Hein http://eqi.org/beasley.htm
Armstrong, Thomas. 1993. 7 Kinds of Smart, Identifying and Developing Your Many Intelligences. New York, New York; Penguin Books USA
Joseph Chilton Pearce
The Holographic Heart
Joseph Chilton Pearce has influenced the realm of human development, parenting, and education for the past 40 years, through books, lectures, and interviews. His book The Biology of Transcendence (2002), describes spiritual development as a potential within human biological development. Central to this idea is his view of the holographic heart; to understand this concept, a brief primer on the construct of the human brain that Chilton Pearce has presented is required:
The Oldest Part – The Reptilian Brain
Considered the most ancient brain, as per its name, human beings share this brain with reptiles. It has been the classic fight or flight response to the world, and functions in the habitual, patterned way. This brain is unable to alter either inherited or learned patterns of behavior, but it can take on the physical parts of learning a new skill such as typing, bike riding, driving a car, or the sensory-motor aspects of playing a musical instrument. This activity frees newer parts of the brain to stand outside of the immediate motor activity to watch and discover new ways to improve and perfect the performance.
The reptilian brain has simple relationships; the main part of its function in an evolutionary sense was to evade predators. A threat does not have to be real, but only needs to be perceived as real for the reptilian brain to kick into fight or flight response. It is this part of our brain that kicks in when an emergency arises to mobilize all of the body’s defense systems. At times humans can perform “super human” acts when spurned on by this brain, which really does evoke the brawn component of the human being.
Old Mammalian Brain – The Emotional-Cognitive Brain
Our second brain is similar to that found in all other mammals, as are the behaviors and abilities that are encoded into it – such as the inherited intelligence for nurturing offspring. This brain surrounds the reptilian brain like a limb, and thus it is often called the limbic system It is also called the emotional-cognitive brain, for in this brain is added a developed sense of smell and hearing, which lift the whole sensory system to a new level of functioning. In this part of the brain are the foundations for all forms of relationships, including the notion that the world is “other” than the self, and that one must learn to relate to it. Just as the reptilian brain gives us the awareness of the outer world, the old mammalian brain gives us a sense of inner environment, through our emotions and feelings.
Chilton Pearce defines emotions and feelings in the following manner:
Emotions: the term that is used for the tools that we use to qualitatively evaluate all of our relationships, especially our relationships to each other. An emotion is considered a change in the state of a body in relation to a stimulus from inside or outside the body.
Feelings: the awareness of the process of connecting the inner response to the inner or outer stimulus.
Neocortex, new Mammalian (verbal-intellectual brain)
This third brain brings language and thinking, and the ability to stand outside all of the other activities that the brain is involved in and observe these activities objectively to consider all factors in diverse situations. This brain takes up 5x more space than the reptilian and the old mammalian brain together. It is upward of 100 billion neurons, and each of these is capable of interacting with some 100 thousand other neurons to form fields of coordinated neural action. This brain has in infinitely wide window of awareness, and it takes input from the outer world to imaginative worlds inside. Whereas our first brain registers past tense only, the second both past and present, it is this brain that can register the concept of the future. With this ability comes the question “what if?”, and at times the anxiety and concern borne out of this brain can ignite the reptilian brain to take over, leading to rash actions.
Curiosity is a keynote of this brain, and people want to expand their awareness and experience. Pearce calls this drive to what is new a tool of both “evolution and transcendence”. The ability to imagine, and to quest for newness in experience and understanding, has unlimited potential through the imagination that is the foundation of all organized thought and creative intelligence. The medieval Sufis considered imagination the highest human capacity, as did Jacob Boehm (1575-1624), William Blake, Johannes Wolfgang Goethe, and Rudolf Steiner.
Neocortex Prefrontal Lobes
This is the newest addition to the human brain. The prefrontal lobes of the neocortex are experience-dependent, and appear to be fully shaped by the child’s experience of their environment through their senses. There are two periods in the human’s life when this part of the brain grows, between the ages of 2 ½ years, and again between 14/15 to 19 years old. During the first few years of life the prefrontal lobes develop through their influence on the unfolding of the older brains. If the environment has enough warmth and security, both physically and emotionally, these lobes will create deep pathways throughout the brain that connect the three other parts of the brain. It is the job of the prefrontal lobes to weave together the three older brains into one civilized mind that it mas access later, at a bout the age of 15, when it will grow again.
The growth of the prefrontal lobes is the most fragile of all the systems in the brain, and is critically dependent of the earlier development of the three earlier brains. When the secondary growth spurt of the prefrontal lobes happens in the adolescent, the emotional nurturing that the adolescent experiences is a major determinate in the success or failure of this latest opening of intelligence. The reward for the healthy development of this part of the brain is that complex, multidimensional, and holographic thinking can occur.
As the brain develops in the human being, each layer interweaves with and becomes the foundation for the next. Every experience that is responded to emotionally creates a patter all the way trough the entire brain. Early experiences are wired deepest in our earliest brains and tend to impact our emotional response throughout our life profoundly. Experiences and new thinking patterns that are repeated and practiced in the second growth spurt of the prefrontal cortex weave deeply into our brain. We can see that experiences we have, and activities we learn during these two periods are very hard to alter later in life. Due to the consciousness of the adolescent, they can learn new skills easier and deeper that at any other time in human development, and habits that are acquired during this time will be very difficult to alter. It is only the prefrontal cortex, with its conscious connection to the heart that can override the powerful, instinctual response of the reptilian “fight or flight” brain. Perhaps this is the meaning of the age-old adage that love is stronger than fear.
The Triune Heart = Holographic Heart
Electromagnetic Neural Hormonal
Universal Personal Biological
Many people have heard of using and EEG (electroencephalogram) to measure the electrical waves put out by our brains. What many have not realized is that the heart also puts out electrical waves, which can be measured by ECG (electrocardiogram).
Every living thing has an electrical output that can be measured, and the heart’s electrical output is exceptional. Whereas to read the electrical activity of the brain one needs very sensitive electrodes on the skull, the heart creates an electromagnetic field that radiates out8 to 12 feet from the body, and can be recorded 3 feet away from the body, at any point around the body. The activity of the heart is not the only source of electrical activity though – the circulatory system also contributes.
The notion from the turn of the 19th century, at about the invention of the steam engine (Bio of Tran p56) was that the heart pumped the blood around the body via the circulatory tubing. According to Chilton Pearce, physicists and physicians have calculated the pressure needed to force liquid through the approximately fifteen miles of tubing (not counting the tiny capillaries), and found that it would take the power of a diesel engine big enough to run a Mac truck. It is now seen that the heart does not pump blood around the body – the entire circulatory system has a contraction and expansion pulse, all of the tubing right to the individual blood vessels themselves. (bio p57) Chilton Pearce mentions new research that also is showing that blood may flow in spiral like vortices through the system, adding to the propulsion of the blood by the circulatory system.
The action of the heart is concerned with pressure regulation when the heart closes its valves the flow of the blood is constricted, which increases the pressure throughout the body. In a healthy heart, at the apex of healthy pressure, the heart valves open to release the blood into the heart chamber. The blood that enters is swirling, and forms a stronger vortex upon entering the chambers of the heart. Through a succession of valve openings the heart moves the blood from one chamber to the next, then to the lungs and back to the heart again. It is the action of the heart holding back and then releasing, and the circulatory system with the spiraling of the blood, which grooves in the blood vessels themselves, adding to the spin, that create our heart beat and pulse.
The electromagnetic energy produced by the heart arcs out from the heart, and then curves back in, creating a donut like arc called a torus. In this field of electromagnetic activity, the first three feet are the strongest, and the strength gradually decreases the farther one moves away from the heart. The axis, or dipole of the heart torus runs through the full length of the human body, from the pelvic floor to the top of the skull. (p57)
It seems that the function of the heart torus is holographic – so that every location within the heart’s field contains all of the frequencies of the heart spectrum.
The activity of a torus formation is very stable, and once set in motion tends to be self-sustaining. Some scientists are thinking that all energy systems, from the smallest atom to the universal, are toroid in form. (P 59) The earth is the center of a torus, and the magnetic poles mark the extremities of the dipole, and the electromagnetic lines of force arc out, creating the same toric shape as the heart does around the body.
The potential that the entire material world is part of a great universal electromagnetic torus, and given that these fields are holographic, and that the center of the human torus is the heart, human beings may have access to the universe through their heart.