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Does The Brain Control The Heart

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Put Your Heart Into Itlearn It By Heartsing With All Your Heartby Dr Dominique Surel

Nervous System Control of the Heart

We are all familiar with such expressions, which suggest that the heart is more than a physical pump that sustains life. Throughout history, philosophers, poets, and prophets have regarded the human heart as the source of love, wisdom, intuition, and positive emotions. These important functions of the heart were recognized by many ancient societies, including the Mesopotamians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, and the Chinese. And four thousand years ago the Egyptians believed the heart played a role in the spiritual dimension; upon death, they weighed the persons heart to see how much good and evil it contained and placed the heart in special urns for burial, while the brain was discarded. The renowned French philosopher Blaise Pascal stated: The heart has reasons that reason cannot know. Such examples are endless and demonstrate the gap between the current scientific perspective of the heart and many ancient traditions.

The Autonomic Nervous System

The autonomic nervous system is responsible for controlling many physiological functions. It induces the force of contraction of the heart and its heart rate. In addition, it controls the peripheral resistance of blood vessels. The ANS has both sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions that work together to maintain balance.

What Controls Heart Rate

Heart rate is controlled by the two branches of the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system . The sympathetic nervous system releases the hormones to accelerate the heart rate. The parasympathetic nervous system releases the hormone acetylcholine to slow the heart rate. Such factors as stress, caffeine, and excitement may temporarily accelerate your heart rate, while meditating or taking slow, deep breaths may help to slow your heart rate.;; Exercising for any duration will increase your heart rate and will remain elevated for as long as the exercise is continued. At the beginning of exercise, your body removes the parasympathetic stimulation, which enables the heart rate to gradually increase. As you exercise more strenuously, the sympathetic system kicks in to accelerate your heart rate even more. Regular participation in cardiovascular exercise over an extended period of time can decrease your resting heart rate by increasing the hearts size, the contractile strength and the length of time the heart fills with blood. The reduced heart rate results from an increase in activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, and perhaps from a decrease in activity of the sympathetic nervous system.

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Anatomy Of The Brain And Spine

Learn more about the anatomy and the functions of the brain and spine

The brain and spine are vital to keep the body alive and functioning.; Everything we do depends on the messages that are sent from the brain, along the spinal cord and on to the rest of the body.

Function Of The Autonomic Nervous System

If according to science, the right side of our brain ...

The autonomic nervous system controls internal body processes such as the following:

  • Blood pressure

  • Digestion

  • Metabolism

  • The production of body fluids

  • Urination

  • Defecation

  • Sexual response

Many organs are controlled primarily by either the sympathetic or the parasympathetic division. Sometimes the two divisions have opposite effects on the same organ. For example, the sympathetic division increases blood pressure, and the parasympathetic division decreases it. Overall, the two divisions work together to ensure that the body responds appropriately to different situations.

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What Develops In The Second Trimester

During the second trimester, Gaither says the brain begins to take command of bodily functions. This includes specific movements that come from the hindbrain, and more specifically, the cerebellum.

One of the first notable developments, sucking and swallowing, are detectable around 16 weeks. Fast-forward to 21 weeks, and Gaither says baby can swallow amniotic fluid.

Its also during the second trimester that breathing movements begin as directed by the developing central nervous system. Experts call this practice breathing since the brain is directing the diaphragm and chest muscles to contract.

And dont be surprised if you feel some kicking during this trimester. Remember the cerebellum or the part of the brain responsible for motor control? Well, its directing the babys movements, including kicking and stretching.

Gaither points out that a fetus can begin to hear during the late second trimester, and a sleep pattern emerges as the brainwaves from the developing hypothalamus become more mature.

What Develops In The Third Trimester

The third trimester is full of rapid growth. In fact, as your baby continues to grow, so does the brain. All the convoluted surfaces of the brain materialize, and the halves will separate, explains Gaither.

The most notable part of the brain during this final trimester is the cerebellum hence, the kicking, punching, wiggling, stretching, and all of the other movements your baby is performing.

While it may feel like you have control over nothing for the next 9 months, you do have a say in the foods you eat. Healthy brain development starts before pregnancy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , a healthy diet that includes folic acid, both from foods and dietary supplements, can promote a healthy nervous system.

There are a number of defects along the babys brain and spinal cord that can occur when there is an abnormality occurring within the first weeks of brain development, says Gaither. This may include anencephaly or spina bifida.

Gaither says two supplements in particular are involved with fetal brain development:

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When Does A Fetus Develop A Brain

Pregnancy is an exciting time full of rapid change and development for both you and your baby. While the growth happening on the outside is clear to everyone , its the development we cant see that is truly fascinating.

Your fetus will begin the process of developing a brain around week 5, but it isnt until week 6 or 7 when the neural tube closes and the brain separates into three parts, that the real fun begins.

The Heart As A Hormonal Gland

Cardiac Center of the Brain Affect on Heart Rate

In addition to its extensive neurological interactions, the heart also communicates with the brain and body biochemically by way of the hormones it produces. Although not typically thought of as an endocrine gland, the heart actually manufactures and secretes a number of hormones and neurotransmitters that have a wide-ranging impact on the body as a whole.

The heart was reclassified as part of the hormonal system in 1983, when a new hormone produced and secreted by the atria of the heart was discovered. This hormone has been called by several different names atrial natriuretic factor , atrial natriuretic peptide and atrial peptide. Nicknamed the balance hormone, it plays an important role in fluid and electrolyte balance and helps regulate the blood vessels, kidneys, adrenal glands and many regulatory centers in the brain. Increased atrial peptide inhibits the release of stress hormones, reduces sympathetic outflow and appears to interact with the immune system. Even more intriguing, experiments suggest atrial peptide can influence motivation and behavior.


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Ventricles And Cerebrospinal Fluid

Deep in the brain are four open areas with passageways between them. They also open into the central spinal canal and the area beneath arachnoid layer of the meninges.

The ventricles manufacture cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, a watery fluid that circulates in and around the ventricles and the spinal cord, and between the meninges. CSF surrounds and cushions the spinal cord and brain, washes out waste and impurities, and delivers nutrients.

Emotional Rescue: The Heart

The silent, often subconscious conversation that is taking place inside us is one of the most vital communications we will ever find ourselves engaged in. Its the dialogue of emotion-based signals between our hearts and our brains, also known as the heart-brain connection. Our author tells us what research has uncovered and some of the keys to a longer, healthier life.

Illustration by EGADS

Weve known for decades that smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes account for most cardiovascular problems. But it wasnt until publication of the;Interheart study; that emotional stress was identified as another key risk factor, accounting for about one-third of heart attacks and strokes.;Previously, in the 1970s, when volunteers were asked to begin to count to 100 and then to serially subtract sevens in quick succession , blood vessels constricted as if they had taken and failed a cardiac stress test. Except in these cases, testing occurred at;rest.

In other words, external stressors that are not effectively managed have direct internal implications by placing undue stress on the heart. Fast forward from the 1970s to the present era, and a;recent study;of more than 135,000 men and women in Sweden that found a history of stress-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome, increased the risk of cardiovascular disease by more than 60 percent within just the first year of diagnosis.

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Heart Of The Matter: 7 Things To Know About Your Ticker

28 March 2014

The heart is a vital organ that pumps blood through the body, and is part of the body’s circulatory system. It is capable of some seemingly amazing feats you may not be aware of. Here are seven things you should know about the heart.

The heart can beat on its own

The heart does not need a brain, or a body for that matter, to keep beating. The heart has its own electrical system that causes it to beat and pump blood. Because of this, the heart can continue to beat for a short time after brain death, or after being removed from the body. The heart will keep beating as long as it has oxygen.

The heart beats about 100,000 times a day

Your heart is a busy organ. The human heart beats about 100,000 times a day, which adds up to about 3 billion beats over an average lifetime. The blood that your heart pumps could travel about 60,000 miles through blood vessels. That’s the distance your blood vessels would cover if laid out, end to end.

More women than men die from heart disease

Although heart disease is often stereotyped as a condition that afflicts men, slightly more women than men in the U.S. have died from the condition each year over the past three decades, according to the American Heart Association. For example, in 2009, heart disease was responsible for 401,495 deaths in U.S. women, and 386,436 deaths in U.S. men, the AHA says.

Heart rate is individual

Blood pressure is two numbers

Blood pressure should be taken in both arms

But It Also Reacts Strongly To Positive Emotions

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By contrast, when we experience pleasure, joy or contentment, our heart rhythms become very orderly and look like a smooth wave. Scientists call this a coherent heart rhythm pattern where the two branches of the ANS are completely in sync and working together.

Positive emotions, therefore, have some bearing on our hearts and can actually have healing properties. Studies have shown that in cases of people who had an increased risk of early-onset coronary artery disease, those that showed a happy outlook and cheerful persona had their risk of a heart attack reduced by one-third.

Mind over matter you might think but which mind and where?

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Brain And Nervous System

Youre in the middle of a meeting at work, but your mind keeps drifting to the parent-teacher conference you have tonight and the car you have to pick up at the shop on the way home and how you wish you hadnt skipped lunch because the rumbling in your stomach is driving you nuts. Then, suddenly, youre back in the moment, hoping nobody noticed your brief departure.

It may seem as if your brain is always on the go. And it is. The brain not only controls what you think and feel, how you learn and remember, and the way you move and talk, but also many things youre less aware of such as the beating of your heart, the digestion of your food, and yes, even the amount of stress you feel. Like you, your brain is quite the juggler.

Anatomy Of The Autonomic Nervous System

The autonomic nervous system The peripheral nervous system consists of more than 100 billion nerve cells that run throughout the body like strings, making connections with the brain, other parts of the body, and… read more is the part of the nervous system that supplies the internal organs, including the blood vessels, stomach, intestine, liver, kidneys, bladder, genitals, lungs, pupils, heart, and sweat, salivary, and digestive glands.

The autonomic nervous system has two main divisions:

  • Sympathetic

  • Parasympathetic

After the autonomic nervous system receives information about the body and external environment, it responds by stimulating body processes, usually through the sympathetic division, or inhibiting them, usually through the parasympathetic division.

An autonomic nerve pathway involves two nerve cells. One cell is located in the brain stem Brain stem The brains functions are both mysterious and remarkable, relying on billions of nerve cells and the internal communication between them. All thoughts, beliefs, memories, behaviors, and moods… read more or spinal cord. It is connected by nerve fibers to the other cell, which is located in a cluster of nerve cells . Nerve fibers from these ganglia connect with internal organs. Most of the ganglia for the sympathetic division are located just outside the spinal cord on both sides of it. The ganglia for the parasympathetic division are located near or in the organs they connect with.

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The Heart Vs The Mind

This may be a little too obvious, but Ill highlight it anyway. There is no heart vs. brain or heart vs. mind as such.;There isnt any thought vs. feeling or logic vs. emotion either. There are variations such as heart vs. brain and heart vs. thinking which are equally untrue.;There is no OR or VERSUS.

Emotions and thoughts both involve a holistic brain in their expression. They inform one another.

The Heart vs. the Mind debate

Understanding how to let one inform the other is a part of mature thinking. One need not choose between the two, one could bring the best of both worlds or let one warn the other. Another aspect of this is heart vs. brain idea is looking at both as concept with connotations. To look at it technically, there are limited inputs from your heart that you can understand and evaluate, to guide yourself. Usually, its just knowledge about how your heart is beating.

During distress, our heart could be pounding, or chest could be tightening. This feeling is easily observable and can be described. It is strongly associated with the mental aspect of distress . The association was known before we knew our anatomy and the brain well enough. Scientists suspect that this association of emotional & mental stress and the pain in the heart are generalizable to emotions emerging from the heart. I too think this seeded all the connotations for the;heart.;

First, let us look at what we know objectively.;

The Central Role Of The Heart

Neural Control of the Heart | Cardiology

One of the primary researchers in this field is Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., Director of Research at The Institute of HeartMath, located in Boulder Creek, California. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Stress, holds memberships with the International Neurocardiology Network, the American Autonomic Society, the Pavlovian Society, and the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, and is an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University. McCraty, whose background is in electrical engineering, is responsible for several inventions widely used in the semi-conductor and automotive industry today. But in 1991, McCraty decided to pursue his passion and helped Doc Childre found the Institute of HeartMath. The research team they have put together has been exploring the role the heart plays in creating emotional experience and accessing intuition, as well as its role in the physiology of optimal function.

The heart is in a constant two-way dialogue with the brain. But, McCraty explains, the heart and cardiovascular system are sending far more signals to the brain than the brain is sending to the heart.

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Amazing Facts About The Heart’s Control Of The Brain

for a somewhat related article on long term, free recall of emotional information.

How many times have I told a patient that the heart is a muscle whose job it is to pump blood 100,000 times a day to all the organs of the body? That is, the really important organs like the brain, kidneys, gut and such. Isn’t the heart a super-important but fairly simple bag of fleshy fibers? Didn’t Dr. Walter Cannon of Harvard Medical School demonstrate back in the 1930’s that the heart responds to external nerves and hormones to help with a fight or flight response to keep us healthy?

Placing the heart in a secondary role in the body raises some interesting questions. What ever became of the Biblical saying “You will love your Lord with all your heart?” With the Buddha saying “The way is not in the sky, the way is in the heart”? Or William Shakespeare writing that “My crown is in my heart, not on my head”? Isn’t the heart the centre of emotions and haven’t we all felt moments when we were sure joy, love, and appreciation emanated from our hearts?

2). There are 40,000 sensory neurons relaying information to the brain from the heart leading researchers to call the heart the “little brain” and to coin the field as neurocardiology.

Overview Of The Autonomic Nervous System

, MD, College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic

The autonomic nervous system regulates certain body processes, such as blood pressure and the rate of breathing. This system works automatically , without a persons conscious effort.

Disorders of the autonomic nervous system can affect any body part or process. Autonomic disorders may be reversible or progressive.

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