Can heart think?

(Hareem Zainab, )

Often do we come across phrases like, “heart says this” or “heart tells me to do so”, and then there are other experiences like heart racing with excitement when watching your favorite team winning a match or feeling sympathy to the extent of crying when some cute friendly little cat gets crushed by the car. Then there are followers of Iqbal, like me, who say “jo akal ka ghulam ho wo dil na kr qubool”. These entire things have been quiet puzzling and confusing for not only the philosophers and psychologists but also for the common people. So I decided to share some of my findings that I gathered by taking a curiosity glance through internet The meme that “heart has brains of its own” is supported by the symptoms shown by almost 5-10% of people who get a heart transplant.

The heart is considered as a source of feelings like love, anger, hatred, and a focus of personality traits. In order to study this a question arise whether the patients after having a heart transplant feel any change in personality or not, so a study was conducted in which 47 patients who were transplanted over a period of 2 years in Vienna, Austria, were asked for an interview. On the basis of interview results the patients were categorized into three groups; one group comprised of those 79% of people who said that they found no personality changein themselves at all after the heart transplant. The patients, according to the research paper, expressed some massive defense and denial reactions, mainly by rapidly changing the subject or making the question ridiculous. The second group comprised of another fifteen per cent of people who said that their personality had changed, but this change not because of the new heart, but because the life-threatening event, in the form of heart transplant, they had been through. Only Six per cent of the patients reported that their personality has changed due to their new hearts.

Some heart transplant recipients have reported unexpected side effects like change in their likes and dislikes, habits and desires and some reported even experiencing memories of the donor. How could all this be possible if heart can’t think?

ASTOUNDING EXAMPLES:
I am quoting some of these examples from “MAN AND HIS GOD: MONEY, SCIENCE or LOVE?” By JacPerus.

The donor was a three years old girl who drowned in a family pool during the absence of her parents and the recipient was a nine years old boy with myocarditis and septal defects. The recipient mother told that he was very fond of eater but after the transplant he became quiet afraid of water. Also the child who knew nothing about the donor girl said “I can feel her in there…..She says she wishes that parents wouldn’t throw away their children”.

On May 29, 1988, an American woman named Claire Sylvia received a heart transplant at a hospital in Yale, Connecticut. Clair Sylvia in her book titled; a change of heart: a memoir, wrote that she developed cravings for bear and chicken nuggets neither of which she liked before the transplant, but she later came to know that these were favorite of her donor.

Another example is the case in which a 47 year-old white male foundry worker, who received the heart of a 17 year-old black male student. The donor was not a racist; he did have some assumptions in regard to the kinds of tastes a young black man would have. He was of the view that if after the transplant his tastes would change, perhaps he would start to like rap music. But contrarily the man started to listen to classical music and became obsessed with it. Later on it turned out that the donor was a classical violin player.
An eight year-old girl, received the heart from murdered ten year-old girl. Interestingly the recipient started to have some nightmares about the murder. These experiences prove helpful by the police to find the man in question.

Some other researchers explain these experiences on the basis of side effects of medicines that are taken after heart transplant so that this new heart may not be rejected by the recipients’ immune system. These medicines could result in some psychological effects that cause the person to think that he may be getting some other personality traits.
Electromagnetic field:

Heart generates electromagnetic field, this em field of heart effects the human body but the people around you also get influenced by your hearts magnetic field. The heart beat generated electrical impulses, much stronger then the impulses generated from the brain, which can be measured 3-4 feet from the body. During the development of the fetus the first organ assembles from the tissues is the heart and it is believed that the em impulses of heart guides the fetal growth.

Researchers have found out that heart experiences a two-way dialogue with the brain. Heart can communicate with brain in different ways like through the transmission of nerve impulse (neurologically), biophysically, biochemically and through electromagnetic interactions [10]. When we experience anger, anxiety, frustration etc. our heart sends rhythm patterns to the brain. The brain then recognizes these patters as emotions and feelings that we experience.For those people that often experience anger, stress etc the risk of heart disease increases as under these emotions the heart releases hormones and experiences a strain that can cause health issues.

On the other hand experiencing positive emotions like love, harmony etc. causes heart to produce such a smooth rhythm that healthy for cardiovascular system and nervous system balance .

Researchers have found that when people are in close proximity there is an exchange of energy. Practices like reki and chi gong are based on the fact that an exchange of energy occurs that facilitates healing.

Heart brain interaction:
An experiment was conducted in which mothers brain waves taken from EEG was compared with her infants heart waves taken with the help of ECG. It was observed that the mother’s brain waves were synchronized with the infant’s heart waves. This indicates that the electromagnetic signals from heart have the potential to affect others around the person like a mother, when she is focused towards her child, becomes sensitive to the signals generated by its heart.

CELL MEMORY:
Researchers have noticed the presence of neurons the heart so some are of the view that may be heart can think or else cells of living tissues could have the capacity to remember. Scientists have discovered a neuron(cells of nervous system) network present in the heart can be thought of as a small brain that could be capable of having memories. These memories seem to be helpful for muscle co-ordination going on in the heart. As the heart can be transplanted, it shows that there is a long-term memory stored in the heart for its rhythms. When the heart is removed, it is taken out of the donor’s body and stays alive for up to four hours. Once the heart is connected into its new recipient, it begins to beat again as soon as the blood enters it. Allthis could be attributed to the presence of neurons that enable the heart to remember beat again.

Some people on the other hand consider heart as an organ composed of tissues whose major job is to pump blood throughout the body which contains neurons and not the brain cell. Neurons, helping in regulating cardiac function, can’t be regarded as a mind.

At times we are confused weather to follow our brain or heart. It becomes difficult to choose between thoughts and feelings. No doubt feelings are at times linked to intuition and help us understand the world beyond logic but following one while leaving the other can lead us to a trouble.
“the mind can calculate what the spirit yearns and the heart wants what the heart wants”, Stephen King

 

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