R. Adam Crane BCIA Senior Fellow, BCIAEEG, NRNP Diplomate

Science of The Heart: The Role of the Heart in Human Performance


For centuries the heart has been considered the source of emotion, courage and wisdom. Neurocardiology is the relatively new science of exploring the physiological mechanisms by which the heart communicates with the brain; thereby influencing information processing, perceptions, emotions and health. Neurocardiology asks questions such as: Why do people experience the feeling or sensation of love and other positive emotional states in the area of the heart, and what are the physiological ramifications of these emotions? How do stress and different emotional states affect the autonomic nervous system, the hormonal and immune systems, the heart and brain? Over the years scientists have experimented with different psychological and physiological measures, but consistently heart rate variability, or heart rhythms, stands out as one of the most dynamic and reflective measures of inner emotional states and stress.

It is clear that negative emotions lead to increased disorder in the heart’s rhythms and in the autonomic nervous system, thereby adversely affecting the rest of the body. In contrast, positive emotions create increased harmony and coherence in heart rhythms, and improve balance in the nervous system. The health implications are easy to understand. Disharmony in the nervous system leads to inefficiency and increased stress on the heart and other organs, while harmonious rhythms are more efficient and less stressful to the body’s systems.

More intriguing are the dramatic positive changes that occur when techniques are applied that increase coherence in rhythmic patterns of heart rate variability. These include shifts in perception and the ability to reduce stress, and deal more effectively with difficult situations. Apparently, the heart is acting as though it has a mind of its own, and is profoundly influencing the way we perceive and respond to the world. In essence, the heart is affecting intelligence and awareness.

There is now a scientific basis to explain how and why the heart affects mental clarity, creativity, emotional balance and personal effectiveness. Research indicates that the heart is far more than a simple pump. The heart is, in fact, a highly complex, self-organized information processing center with its own functional “brain” that communicates with and influences the cranial brain via the nervous system, hormonal system and other pathways. These influences profoundly affect brain function and most of the body’s major organs, and ultimately determine the quality of life.

Biofeedback researchers and practitioners are enthusiastic about the emergence of this new Biofeedback tool. Like Neurofeedback, Heart Rate Variability’s (HRV) simple technical name belies its power and importance in the rapidly evolving field of life, performance enhancement and longevity. However, its effectiveness is amplified even more when combined with Neurofeedback training Miami. Heart rate variability is a measure of the naturally occurring beat-to-beat changes in heart rate, a powerful, noninvasive measure of autonomic nervous system function and an indicator of neurocardiac fitness. The heart and brain maintain a continuous two-way dialogue, with each influencing the other’s functioning. It is now known that the signals the heart sends the brain can influence perception, emotional processing, and higher cognitive functions. Let’s start with a simplified discussion before we dig deeper into the hard science and technical jargon.

Throughout history philosophers have asserted that “when the heart enters the brain wisdom emerges”. Now, neurocardiology has demonstrated that there are physiological correlation’s for this ancient concept. Furthermore, these discoveries have been translated into a fascinating and enjoyable form of Biofeedback with enormous potential. Part of the reason for this potential is that people are attracted to the simple, common sense notion that there is something that can be done to assure that their thinking will be positively influenced by their hearts. Of course, heart represents one’s humanity, compassion, wisdom etc., but most people are keenly aware that feelings in the heart profoundly affects health.

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Author's Bio: 

Biofeedback/Neurofeedback Training and Seminars are designed to teach clinicians biofeedback fundamentals and cutting-edge applications.