July 3, 2022

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Science confirms that emotions are born in the heart, not in the brain

Do feelings come from the heart or the brain?

studyUniversity of Pisa In cooperation withUniversity of Padova deerUniversity of California, Irvine Posted in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States“.

The poets said that emotions are born in the heart, not in the brain. Now scientific research confirms the foundations of this literary tomb.

Peripheral formation theory of emotions

Study Bioengineering Analytics The mechanism that leads us to experience a particular emotion In the face of certain stimuli and finds the roots of emotions in the heart.

“That the body plays a fundamental role in determining emotional states is now widely recognized by the scientific community.” Gaetano Valenza, professor of bioengineering in the Department of Information Engineering at the University of Pisa and researcher at the E. Piaggio Center explained.

However, if we exclude some of the theories proposed at the beginning of the last century, Until now, cardiovascular activity was seen as a simple metabolic support to support the brain. And Only the brain will be the seat of the biological processes responsible for conscious emotional experience.

Instead, we have proof of the fact that Cardiovascular activity plays a causal role in the initiation and feeling of a particular feeling. Not only that: it temporarily precedes the activation of neurons in the cerebral cortex.

Essentially, to paraphrase William James, who was the father, along with John Lang, of the so-called peripheral theory of emotions, We do not have tachycardia because we are afraid, but the feeling of fear is the conscious emotional experience caused by tachycardia.“.

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Heart and Brain: Experiencing Emotions

To prove this theory, the scientists used complex mathematical models applied to ECG and EEG signals in healthy subjects when watching movies with disturbing or pleasant emotional content.

The researchers found that in the first few seconds, the stimulus modulates the activity of the heart, which in turn induces and modulates a specific response to the cortex. Thus, the continuous and bidirectional exchange of information between the heart and the brain underlies the fully conscious experience of emotion and, above all, its intensity.

“It is clear that the complexity of the emotions we feel comes from a very complex exchange between our nervous system and the different ‘peripheral’ systems. But It is the activity of the heart, not the activity of the brain, that initiates the emotional experience“.

To be able to derive the assessment of emotional state from a simple ECG analysis, the researchers developed mathematical equations capable of “decoding” the communication between the heart and the brain in different emotional states.

In practice, given certain cardiac dynamics, in the near future it may be possible to understand the emotions felt by the person being monitored, for example using a smartwatch.

Important consequences of treating mental disorders

“The discovery could have very big repercussions Understanding mental disorders and their relationship to physical health. This was stated by Claudio Gentile, of the Department of General Psychology and the Center for Clinical Psychological Services at the University of Padua.

It may explain why people with emotional disorders, such as depression, are associated with a higher risk of heart disease. Or, conversely, among people with heart problems such as coronary heart disease or arrhythmia, there is an increase in anxiety and depression.

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Our work is back Peripheral formation theory of emotions. But above all, it confirms the latest neuroscientific positions that suggest overcoming the dichotomy between the brain as an exclusive organ of mind and body. We are not (only) our minds.”

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