Friday, 13 April 2007

Thinking about the heart

At some point we'll need a neurology which can tie in with what a narrative-style psychology has to say about ill health. We should never underestimate the difficulty, however, of wedding together such different languages.

Perhaps first we might expect detailed findings relating brain functioning to disease. The BBC reports some research suggests that heart functioning is represented in 'higher' levels of the brain, in the cerebral cortex. Feedback loops were found to operate when heart disease patients were asked to perform mildly 'stressful' tasks, such as counting backwards in sevens. This gives us a clue as to how heart activity can be destabilised, leading to arrhythmia and even sudden cardiac arrest.

What we'd really like to know is how higher level cognitive processes influence and are influenced by heart activity.

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