The Heart and Its Effect to Perception

The heart is a very impressive organ, and as lovely as its name. It is the first organ to appear and starts pumping before you have blood, it manufactures and secretes hormone blends, one of which is oxytocin or called the Love Hormone, bringing together feelings of compassion, love, harmony, and peace.  It is also arguably one of the most important and interrelated to other parts of the human body to properly function. The heart reacts to the signals sent by the brain, which could seem that the brain controls the heart. However, it can also be the other way around, and researchers provided explanations on the underlying mechanisms.

Relationship of brain activity and heartbeat

Let’s look into the teamwork of the heart and brain. Both undergo constant communication. In an intense situation, brain signals make the heart beat faster, while it slows down when on an opposite encounter.

This relationship has a dynamic, ongoing, two-way dialogue, with each organ continuously contributing to the other’s function. Research has found that the heart connects to the brain in four major ways: neurologically, biochemically, biophysically, and energetically.

How the heart influences perception

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig and Berlin School of Mind and Brain identified two mechanisms underpinning how the heart influences perception and the brain, and how they differ between individuals.

The phase of the heartbeat and conscious experience

The heart contracts in the so-called systolic phase and pumps blood into the body in a regular rhythm. Then comes a second phase which is called the diastolic phase, in which the blood flows back and the heart fills up again. The perception of external stimuli changes with the heartbeat. 

Left: The detection rate is reduced during systole (red) compared to diastole (blue). Right: In systole a specific component of brain activity, which is associated with consciousness, the so-called P300-component is suppressed. © MPI CBS/ PNAS

Perception can change in a single heartbeat

Brain activity is changing over the heart cycle. In a new study by Esra Al and colleagues, it is also found that a large heartbeat-evoked potential seems to reflect a "state of mind," in which we are more focused on the functioning of our inner organs such as the blood circulation, however less aware of stimuli from the outside world.

The change in perception, mental clarity, and intuition have a lot to do with regard to rhythmic and deep breathing. When the heart's rhythms become more precise, the changed information flow from the heart to the brain may act to modify cortical function and influence performance. 

In another study from 2014 on sensitivity to fear stimuli, researches found that it was partially dependent on whether our hearts were beating or resting. When the heart was in the systole phase (contracting), the participants were more likely to exhibit a response to a face showing fear when compared to diastole (relaxing) in which the heart is at rest. Amygdala, a region of the brain is responsible for responding to fear, and in this research showed that this part of the brain is more active during systole. 

Think With Your Heart

Now that we’re equipped with the knowledge of how the heart is an important part of perception, the next step would be to be able to stay on the right lane - how do we counteract harm that can happen as caused by heartbeat? Is there anything we can do?

Pay attention to the rhythms of your body. Experts suggest tending to the clues of your current internal state or what we call interoception. Pay attention to the sensations of hunger, body temperature, respiration, the need to urinate, and heartbeat. Your awareness of sensing how heartbeats change does a lot of benefits: it enhances memory and intuitive processing skills, improves dealing with anxiety, and the way you react when placed in stressful situations. This ability extends to helping also the people around you, especially when in danger.

Exercise. Working out does a lot of help when it comes to learning to control your breathing and heart rate. This helps you to be more ready when handling stressful situations with a calm healthy mental and physical state.

Positive emotions. While there are bad days in life, it is important to practice leaning into a positive way of handling stressful moments, and one awesome tool for that is gratitude. 

Healthy eating plan. A menu based on natural whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nonfat dairy products, seafood, and limited lean meat help in improving heart health naturally. You can find more heart-healthy foods here

Quit smoking. There’s not much to say on this, as this is well-known to be a contributor to bad health and linked to heart-related disease. 

Heart health supplements. Joining in the natural and equipment-based methods are supplements for heart health improvement. With a reliable guide from your health expert, it is important to look out for these ingredients when picking a supplement that will suit your concern.

Join S-CELL in the healthy living journey! We offer Smart Brain enhancing supplement that contains ingredients for improving perception and NMN Cell Revival with ingredients such as ENXTRA that helps optimize your heart rate.