The “Little Brain” in the Heart

The following excerpt is taken from the book Human by Design by Gregg Braden. It is published
by Hay House (Available Oct. 10, 2017) and available at all bookstores or online at:

In 1991, a scientific discovery published in the journal Neurocardiology put to rest any lingering doubt that the human heart is more than a pump. The name of the journal gives us a clue to the discovery of a powerful relationship between the heart and the brain that went unrecognized in the past. A team of scientists led by J. Andrew Armour, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Montreal, which was studying this intimate relationship between heart and brain, found that about 40,000 specialized neurons, or sensory neurites, form a communication network within the heart.

For clarity, let me say that the term neuron describes a specialized cell that can be excited (electrically stimulated) in a way that allows it to share information with other cells in the body. While large numbers of neurons are obviously concentrated in the brain and along the spinal cord, the discovery of these cells in the heart and other organs, in smaller numbers, gives new insight into the profound level of communication that exists within the body.

Neurites are tiny projections that come from the main body of a neuron to perform different functions in the body. Some carry information away from the neuron to connect with other cells, while others detect signals from various sources and carry them toward the neuron. What makes this discovery exceptional is that the neurites in the heart perform many of the same functions that are found in the brain.

In simple terms, Armour and his team discovered what has come to be known as the little brain in the heart, and the specialized neurites that make the existence of this little brain possible. As the scientists who made the discovery say in their report, “The ‘heart brain’ is an intricate network of nerves, neurotransmitters, proteins, and support cells similar to those found in the brain proper.”

Key 17: The discovery of 40,000 sensory neurites in the human heart opens the door to vast new possibilities that parallel those that have been accurately described in the scriptures of some of our most ancient and cherished spiritual traditions.

A key role of the brain in the heart is to detect changes of hormones and other chemicals within the body and communicate those changes to the brain so it can meet our needs accordingly.

The heart’s brain does this by converting the language of the body—emotions—into the electrical language of the nervous system so that its messages make sense to the brain. The heart’s coded messages inform the brain when we need more adrenaline, for example, in a stressful situation, or when it’s safe to create less adrenaline and focus on building a stronger immune system.

Now that the little brain in the heart has been recognized by researchers, the role it plays in a number of physical and metaphysical functions has also come to light. These functions include:

  • Direct heart communication with sensory neurites in other organs in the body
  • The heart-based wisdom known as heart intelligence
  • Intentional states of deep intuition
  • Intentional precognitive abilities
  • The mechanism of intentional self-healing
  • The awakening of super-learning abilities
  • And much more

The heart’s little brain has been found to function in two distinct yet related ways. It can act:

  • Independently of the cranial brain to think, learn, remember, and even sense our inner and outer worlds on its own
  • In harmony with the cranial brain to give us the benefit of a single, potent neural network shared by the two separate organs

Armour’s discovery has the potential to forever change the way we think of ourselves. It gives new meaning to what’s possible in our bodies and what we’re capable of achieving in our lives. In his words: “It has become clear in recent years that a sophisticated two-way communication occurs between the heart and the brain, with each influencing the other’s function.”

The science from the new field of neurocardiology is just beginning to catch up with traditional beliefs when it comes to explaining experiences such as intuition, precognition, and self-healing. This is especially apparent when we examine the principles offered in some of our most ancient and cherished spiritual traditions. Almost universally, historical teachings demonstrate an understanding of the heart’s role at the level of having direct influence upon our personalities, our daily decisions, and our ability to make moral choices that include the discernment of right and wrong.


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Gregg Braden

Gregg Braden is a five-time New York Times best-selling author, scientist, international educator and renowned as a pioneer in the emerging paradigm based in science, spirituality, social policy and human potential. From 1979 to 1991 Gregg worked as a problem solver during times of crisis for Fortune 500 companies, including Cisco Systems, where he became the first Technical Operations Manager in 1991. He continues problem-solving today as his work reveals deep insights into our origin, our potential, and how these understandings inform the policies underlying everyday life and the emerging world. To date his research has led to 15 film credits and 12 award-winning books now published in over 40 languages

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