Love Sick or Crazy in Love?

heart-617902_640The heart has a long history — one that is well documented in literature and song lyrics — of allowing us to do crazy things when we are in love. These episodes of “losing myself” or not “knowing what I was thinking” have a basis in the theory that the heart rules our emotions, not our rational thought. However, what scientists are discovering is that your heart – when you allow it — reveals what you truly value and who you really are.

Neurocardiologists have discovered that the heart acts independently when it connects and sends signals to the cranial brain’s areas that regulate our emotions and our perceptions — the amygdala, thalamus, and hypothalamus

A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine even shows that the heart can receive information and respond to it before the brain in our head even processes it. In the article’s research study, the participants’ heartbeats revealed a change or a sort of pre-awareness of what was about to happen. This sensation or awareness is probably the basis for what we refer to as “premonition,” “intuition” or maybe even a “sixth sense.”

An example could be the way you swerve to avoid a child running into the street before you consciously see or hear the child. Yes, the cranial brain is involved in this reaction, but the heart has reacted and responded to it first. In fact, scientists now believe only about 20 percent of our cranial brain is involved in conscious thought, so it needs the help of the “little brain” in our chests.

3632901234_f1ea817737_zLove stories often refer to a “spark” between two people when they first meet. Researchers have even compared functional MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) of people who reported they were experiencing passionate love, maternal love or unconditional love with images from people who were not. The compared images reveal what researchers call a “passion network” — an area that releases neuro­transmitters and other chemicals in the brain and blood, according to an article in the February 2011 issue of Scientific American magazine. Psychiatrists hope that they may be able to help patients who are severely depressed after a break-up by adjusting the levels of these same chemicals.

The references in literature and love songs to a “spark” when two people meet also may be much more than metaphorical. Studies by the HeartMath Research Center have shown that one person’s heart can detect and even synchronize with the heartbeat and brainwaves of another individual as much as five feet away. While scientists are still learning the how’s and why’s of this electromagnetic communication, it does appear to be a key component in how we develop feelings for another person. It may be behind the reason people still say they love someone after they have been terribly hurt by that person.

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