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Science of The Heart: Exploring the Role of the Heart in Human Performance

11 Tháng Chín 201312:00 SA(Xem: 24725)
An Overview of Research Conducted by the Institute of HeartMath etermine the quality of life.

 

Science of the Heart

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Figure 1.

Innervation of the major organs by the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Parasympathetic fibers pass through the cranium and sacrum; sympathetic fibers are associated with the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. Proper functioning of the ANS is critical for the maintenance of health, while a number of health problems are associated with ANS dysfunction or imbalance. Emotions greatly affect the activity of the ANS and the balance between the two branches. For example, anger causes increased sympathetic activity and reduced parasympathetic. Constriction of the arteries resulting from excessive sympathetic stimulation can contribute to hypertension and heart attacks.

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The Heart Brain

The intrinsic cardiac nervous system, or heart brain, is made up of complex ganglia, containing afferent (receiving) local circuit (interneurons) and efferent (transmitting) sympathetic and parasympathetic neurons. Multifunctional sensory neurites, which are distributed throughout the heart, are sensitive to many types of sensory input originating from within the heart itself. The intrinsic cardiac ganglia integrate messages from the brain and other processing centers throughout the body with information received from the cardiac sensory neurites. Once information has been processed by the heart’s intrinsic neurons, the appropriate signals are sent to the sinoatrial and atrioventricular nodes as well as the muscles in the heart. Thus, under normal physiological conditions, the heart’s intrinsic nervous system plays an important role in much of the routine control of cardiac function, independent of the central nervous system. Dr. Armour and his colleagues have shown that the heart’s intrinsic nervous system is vital for the maintenance of cardiovascular stability and efficiency, and that without it, the heart cannot operate properly.

The Heart Brain

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Figure 2.

The neural communication pathways between the heart and the brain. The heart’s intrinsic nervous system consists of ganglia, which contain local circuit neurons of several types, and sensory neurites, which are distributed throughout the heart. The intrinsic ganglia process and integrate inflowing information from the extrinsic nervous system and from the sensory neurites within the heart. The extrinsic cardiac ganglia, located in the thoracic cavity, have direct connections to organs such as the lungs and esophagus and are also indirectly connected via the spinal cord to many other organs, including the skin and arteries. The "afferent" (flowing to the brain) parasympathetic information travels from the heart to the brain through the vagus nerve to the medulla, after passing through the nodose ganglion. The sympathetic afferent nerves first connect to the extrinsic cardiac ganglia (also a processing center), then to the dorsal root ganglion and the spinal cord. Once afferent signals reach the medulla, they travel to the subcortical areas (thalamus, amygdala, etc.) and then to the cortical areas.

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