The “Little Brain In the Heart”

The “Little Brain In the Heart”


Did you know neurocardiologists and many other scientists believe the heart, which constantly shares information with the brain, has a brain of its own?We now know that the heart sends much more information to the brain than it receives, including signals that can influence perception, emotional experience and higher mental processes.

Institute of HeartMath Intrinsic Cardiac Afferent Neurons Dr. J. Andrew Armour introduced the term, “heart brain,” in 1991. Armour showed that the heart’s complex nervous system qualified it as a “little brain.”

Science of the Heart, a signature HeartMath Institute (HMI) work, explains that the heart brain, like the brain proper, has an intricate network of several types of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells. It can act independently to learn, remember, feel and sense.

One of the key discoveries HMI researchers made about the heart brain, which it also calls the intelligent heart, is intentionally experiencing emotions can change the information the heart sends to the brain. HeartMath Institute studies have shown emotions such as compassion, care and love or generally positive feeling states actually can benefit you in many ways.

For example, in one HMI study, hundreds of participants were asked to intentionally feel positive emotions. The result was that their heart rhythms became smoother and more stable, particularly after having felt a negative emotion.

Smooth and stable heart rhythms are signs of coherence, a psychophysiological state in which our mental perception, intuitive awareness and performance in a range of activities improve.


This post was written by Sara Childre, President, HeartMath Institute and originally sent via email. Slideshow images and descriptions from HeartMath.

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