Thursday, June 07, 2007

Is the heart the seat of emotions?

Poetry, song, and folklore have long portrayed the heart as the province of the emotions, while making rational thought the business of the brain. Actually such emotions as fear, love, hate, anger, elation, greed, lust, envy, and shame have not one cause or source but several, beginning with the internal or external event that provokes them. Although emotions often involve a quicker heartbeat and other "heartfelt" effects, the heart is just one part of a complex story.

Each conscious emotion is the result of a welter of signals traveling back and forth on nerve and brain pathways. If there is any one control center for all this activity, it is the limbic system, the collective name (from Latin limbus, meaning "border") for several interconnected structures that lie near the brain's core. Enveloping the top of the brain stem, they form a borderland between the "lower" or "animal" parts of the brain (mainly involved with instincts, drives, and automatic regulation of body processes) and the higher, uniquely human brain areas, associated with the cerebral cortex, which permit advanced reasoning and planning. In this strategic spot, a kind of crossroads where visceral feelings, cognition, and memory meet, the limbic system helps shape the basic motivations and emotions of our lives.


Danielle said...

I wonder of the connection between the heart being considered the base of all emotions and the Anahat Chakra accompanying the position above the heart. It is known to be the home of our self, spirit,or atma in the Hindu tradition.
Thanks again for your efforts in spreading knowledge.

Be well and enjoy the day.

Raj said...

Excellent work! Very systematic and making reader involved.