Neurocardiology: The Brain in the Heart

While the Laceys were doing their research in psychophysiology, a small group of cardiovascular researchers joined with a similar group of neurophysiologists to explore areas of mutual interest. This represented the beginning of the new discipline of neurocardiology, which has since provided critically important insights into the nervous system within the heart and how the brain and heart communicate with each other via the nervous system.

After extensive research, one of the early pioneers in neurocardiology, Dr. J. Andrew Armour, introduced the concept of a functional "heart brain" in 1991. His work revealed that the heart has a complex intrinsic nervous system that is sufficiently sophisticated to qualify as a "little brain" in its own right. The heart’s brain is an intricate network of several types of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells like those found in the brain proper. Its elaborate circuitry enables it to act independently of the cranial brain – to learn, remember, and even feel and sense. The recent book Neurocardiology, edited by Dr. Armour and Dr. Jeffrey Ardell, provides a comprehensive overview of the function of the heart’s intrinsic nervous system and the role of central and peripheral autonomic neurons in the regulation of cardiac function. The nervous system pathways between the heart and brain are shown in Figure 2.

The heart’s nervous system contains around 40,000 neurons, called sensory neurites, which detect circulating hormones and neurochemicals and sense heart rate and pressure information. Hormonal, chemical, rate and pressure information is translated into neurological impulses by the heart’s nervous system and sent from the heart to the brain through several afferent (flowing to the brain) pathways. It is also through these nerve pathways that pain signals and other feeling sensations are sent to the brain. These afferent nerve pathways enter the brain in an area called the medulla, located in the brain stem. The signals have a regulatory role over many of the autonomic nervous system signals that flow out of the brain to the heart, blood vessels and other glands and organs. However, they also cascade up into the higher centers of the brain, where they may influence perception, decision making and other cognitive processes.

Dr. Armour describes the brain and nervous system as a distributed parallel processing system consisting of separate but interacting groups of neuronal processing centers distributed throughout the body. The heart has its own intrinsic nervous system that operates and processes information independently of the brain or nervous system. This is what allows a heart transplant to work: Normally, the heart communicates with the brain via nerve fibers running through the vagus nerve and the spinal column. In a heart transplant, these nerve connections do not reconnect for an extended period of time, if at all; however, the transplanted heart is able to function in its new host through the capacity of its intact, intrinsic nervous system.

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  1. Hi Nice Blog The human circulatory system is termed the cardiovascular system, from the Greek word kardia, meaning heart, and the Latin vasculum, meaningsmall vessel. The basic components of the cardiovascular system information are the heart, the blood vessels, and the blood. The work done by the cardiovascular system is astounding.

  2. ((Have they not travelled through the land, and have they hearts wherewith to understand and ears wherewith to hear? Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts which are in the breasts that grow blind))the holy quranlook at they hearts wherewith to understandthe heart understand the heart has brain

  3. “Verily in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest.”

    -the Holy Quran (13:28)

    “He it is who sent down peace of reassurance into the hearts of the believers that they might add faith unto their faith.” -the Holy Quran (48:4)

    “And places compassion and mercy in the hearts of those who followed him.”

    -the Holy Quran (57:27)

    “The day when wealth and sons avail not (any man). Save him who bringeth unto God a whole heart.” -the Holy Quran (26: 88-89)

    The sicknesses of heart and self could not be considered as small or insignificant rather they are much more dangerous and incurable as compared to bodily diseases. In case of bodily diseases the physical order of the body looses its equilibrium thus, causing pain, discomfort, and inflicting damage upon a specific part of the body. But this is rather limited and in any case these effects cannot go on beyond the physical life span of the inflicted person. However, the sickness of heart and self are accompanied with continuous anguish, torture, and eternal punishment; the pain and punishment which penetrate until the very depths of heart engulfing the soul with eternal flames.

    The heart which remained completely ignorant of God’s existence without witnessing His signs by spending a life of disbelief, deviation, and sins in reality is blind and dark, which will be raised on the Day of Judgment with similar condition, and will have no other choice except to be condemned into Hell to live a painful eternal life full of anguish and torture. The God-Almighty in Holy Quran said:

    “But he who turneth away from remembrance” of Me, his will be a narrow life, and I shall bring him blind to the assembly on the Day of Resurrection. He will say: 'My Lord! wherefore hast thou gathered me (hither) blind, when I was wont to see?' He will say: 'so (it must be) our revelations come unto thee but thou didst forget them. In like manner thou art forgotten this Day.”

    -the Holy Quran (20:124-126)

    “Have they not traveled in the land and have they hearts wherewith to feel and ears wherewith to hear.”

    -the Holy Quran (22:46)

    “Having hearts wherewith they understand not, and having eyes wherewith they see not.”

    -the Holy Quran (7:179)

    “And their hearts are sealed, so that they apprehend not.”

    -the Holy Quran (9:87)

    “These are they into whose hearts He has impressed faith and strengthened them with a spirit from Him.”

    -the Holy Quran (58:22)

    “And as for those who believe not in the Hereafter there hearts refuse to know, for they are proud.”

    -the Holy Quran (16:22)

    “Such are they whose hearts and ears and eyes God hath sealed. And such are the heedless.” -the Holy Quran (16:108)

    “The Hypocrites fear lest a surah should be revealed concerning them, proclaiming what is in their hearts.” -the Holy Quran (9: 64)

    “And whosoever believeth in God, He guideth his heart. And God is knower of all things.” -the Holy Quran (64:11)

    “Most surely there is a reminder in this for him who has a heart or he gives ear and is a witness.” -the Holy Quran (50: 37)

    “And obey not him whose heart we have made heedless of Our Remembrance, who followeth his own lust.” -the Holy Quran (18:28)

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