Second Brain Found in the Heart and Gut Neurons
The idea of transplanted cellular memory emerged in 1920 in the film Les Mains d'Orleac. Now, a second brain in the heart and the gut is much more than an idea. Prominent medical experts have recently discovered that many recipients of heart transplants are inheriting donors' memories and subsequently reporting huge changes in their tastes, their personality, and, most extraordinarily, in their emotional memories. Today, scientists are testing the theory that the heart and the gut are involved in our feelings. So, what have they discovered?
Case Studies Surrounding Heart Intelligence
Amazing new discoveries have revealed that the heart organ is intelligent. Sometimes our heart can lead the brain both in our interpretation of the external world as well as the actions we chose to take. A large number of case studies was enough to prompt scientists to examine the heart with a different lens. They began by testing old theories that claim that the heart is involved in our feelings, emotions, and premonitions.
Since cardiac surgeon Christian Barnard's first successful human heart transplant in South Africa in 1967, heart transplant recipients have had some intriguing experiences. Some of these events were so strange that recipients sought to meet the families of their donors to find out what was happening to them. The question was could the patients have inherited certain behavioral and character traits through cellular memories from the heart of their donors? The following anecdotes are only a few of the many cases reported as evidence of something extraordinary happening to heart transplant recipients:
- A gentle, soft-spoken woman who never drank alcohol and hated football received a heart from a crashed biker donor and turned into an aggressive, beer-drinking football fan.
- A 47-year-old Caucasian male received a heart from a 17-year-old African American male. The recipient was surprised by his newfound love of classical music. What he discovered later was that the donor, who loved classical music and played the violin, had died in a drive-by shooting, clutching his violin case to his chest. A man who could barely write suddenly developed a talent for poetry.
- An eight-year-old girl who received the heart of a ten-year-old murdered girl had horrifying nightmares of a man murdering her donor. The dreams were so traumatic that psychiatric help was sought. The girl’s images were so specific that the psychiatrist and the mother notified the police. Using the most detailed and horrid descriptive memories provided by the little girl, the police gathered enough evidence to find the murderer, charge him, and get a conviction for rape and first-degree murder.
What Are Cellular Memories?
Science has attempted to explain why organ recipients are hosts to donors’ memories and emotions, also known as "cellular memories." While a handful of scientists are skeptical and dismissing this strange phenomenon as post-surgery stress or reaction to anti-organ rejection drugs, there are also a growing number of experts who believe cellular memories are indeed transplanted from donor to recipient with organs.
Dr. Paul Pearsall, for instance, believes in the possibility of cellular memories being transferred to new owners by way of transplant procedures, due in part to his own bone marrow transplant in 1987. He analyzes this phenomenon and its larger implications for how we conceive of human consciousness in his book The Heart's Code: Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Our Heart Energy.
The Little Brain in the Heart
Dr. Andrew Armour of the UCLA Neurocardiology Research Center discovered a sophisticated collection of neurons in the heart that organized into a small, complex nervous system. The heart’s nervous system contains around 40,000 neurons called sensory neurites that communicate with the brain. Dr. Armour dubbed this discovery as the "little brain in the heart." Memory is a distributive process which means you can’t localize it to a neuron or a group of neurons in the brain. The memory itself is distributed throughout the neural system. So, why do we draw a line at the brain? Maybe it's time we distinguish the functions of the brain and what we call the mind.
What Is the Mind?
The mind is considered the center of human consciousness. Scientists have always tried to describe it as a consequence of brain functions. The brain was always considered to be the primary hardware. However, an increasing amount of evidence suggests that the mind is a sophisticated software that goes beyond the physical limits of our skulls.
The Mind Is Not Located Solely in the Brain
A quote from the late Dr. Candace Pert, a pharmacologist at Georgetown University explains the strange transplant experiences. "The mind is not just in the brain, but also exists throughout the body. The mind and body communicate with each other through chemicals known as peptides. These peptides are found in the brain as well as in the stomach, in muscles and in all of our major organs. I believe that memory can be accessed anywhere in the peptide/receptor network. For instance, a memory associated with food may be linked to the pancreas or liver and such associations can be transplanted from one person to another."
Professor Dan Siegel of UCLA School of Medicine describes the mind as, “the emergent self-organizing process, both embodied and relational, that regulates energy and information flow within and among us.” This definition supports the claim that the mind extends beyond our brains. Siegel takes it a step further. He believes that the mind extends into a some space outside of our bodies. He argues that the mind is our perception of life and life itself. That means that it’s difficult to separate our personal view of the world from our interactions.
Do you believe that your heart has its own brain?
The Enteric Nervous System: The Second Brain in Your Gut
The human gut has been referred to by some scientists as the "enteric nervous system." The enteric nervous system is widely-regarded as our second brain. It consists of a sophisticated network of 100 million neurons fixed in the walls of our guts.
Bacteria in the gut produce neurochemicals like serotonin that the second brain utilizes to control basic physiological processes and cognitive functions. Serotonin is a chemical that influences the digestive processes and mood states. The second brain in our gut produces over 90% of the chemical that exists in our entire bodies.
Our gut is versatile in its ability to cooperate with the brain. This realization along with knowledge of our brain's capacity to regulate external dangers led researchers to the gut-brain connection. Gastroenterologist Emeran Mayer, MD, Director of the Center for Neurobiology of Stress at the University of California, Los Angeles, believes that, "it's almost unthinkable that the gut is not playing a critical role in mind states."
The ENS and Emotions
The enteric nervous system could be responsible for mood swings experienced by people experiencing stomach issues. Researchers previously thought that anxiety and depression were to blame for issues like constipation and bloating. However, studies have found evidence of a two-way exchange in which digestive issues may also be to blame for signaling the central nervous system to trigger mood changes.
Do you think there is something akin to a "second brain" found in the gut?
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© 2009 Juliette Kando FI Chor