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Second Brain Found in Heart Neurons - Trust your Gut Feelings

Updated on April 4, 2018
Sue Adams profile image

Dancer, choreologist (movement notator), author on fitness and health, and Fellow of the Benesh Institute at the Royal Academy of Dance.

The idea of transplanted cellular memory emerged as early as 1920 in the film "Les Mains d'Orleac" written by science fiction writer Maurice Renard. A second brain in the heart is now much more than an idea. Prominent medical experts have recently discovered that many recipients of heart transplants are inheriting donors' memories and consequently report huge changes in their tastes, their personality, and, most extraordinarily, in their emotional memories. Today new science is testing the theory that the heart is involved in our feelings. So what have they discovered so far?

Discovery of Case Studies

Amazing new discoveries show that the heart organ is intelligent and that it sometimes can lead the brain in our interpretation of the world around us, and in the actions we chose to take. A large number of case studies were enough to prompt some scientists to look differently at the heart and test old theories that the heart is involved in our feelings, emotions and premonitions. Since cardiac surgeon Christian Barnard's first successful human heart transplant in South Africa in 1967, heart transplant recipients have had intriguing experiences, so strange and out of character that they seek to meet the families of their donors to find out what is going on. Could they have inherited certain behavioral and character traits through cellular memories from the heart of their donors?

Meeting Donor's Family

Upon meeting their donors' families, the heart transplant patients' hunches were confirmed: the new personality traits had indeed been passed on from their donors. Families of donors often tend to bond with a recipient of an organ donated by their departed loved ones. They, in many ways, recognize and like the recipient, almost as if a part of their lost one was, somehow, still alive.

Not just a pumping machine?
Not just a pumping machine? | Source

The Little Brain In The Heart

Neurologist Dr. Andrew Amour from Montreal in Canada discovered a sophisticated collection of neurons in the heart organised into a small but complex nervous system. The heart’s nervous system contains around 40,000 neurons called sensory neurites that communicate with the brain. Dr. Amour called it “the Little Brain in the Heart”. It has been known for many years that memory is a distributive process. You can’t localize memory to a neuron or a group of neurons in the brain. The memory itself is distributed throughout the neural system. So why do we draw a line at the brain?


The following facts are only a few of the many cases reported as evidence of something extraordinary happening to heart transplant recipients: They seem to take on the likes and dislikes of their donors.

A gentle, soft-spoken woman who never drank alcohol and hated football got a heart from a crashed biker donor and turned into an aggressive beer drinking football fan.

Her new heart wants to play football
Her new heart wants to play football | Source

A lazy male couch potato received a heart from a stuntman. He inexplicably started training fanatically for no apparent reason until he became a true athlete.

Couch potato turned athletic.
Couch potato turned athletic. | Source

A 47-year-old Caucasian male received a heart from a 17-year-old African-American male. The recipient was surprised by his new-found love of classical music.

What he discovered later was that the donor, who loved classical music and played the violin, had died in a drive-by shooting, clutching his violin case to his chest.

A man who could barely write suddenly developed a talent for poetry.

turned poet
turned poet

Most Amazingly...

An eight-year-old girl who received the heart of a ten-year-old murdered girl had horrifying nightmares of a man murdering her donor. The dreams were so traumatic that psychiatric help was sought.

The girl’s images were so specific that the psychiatrist and the mother notified the police.

Using the most detailed and horrid descriptive memories provided by the little girl, the police gathered enough evidence to find the murderer, charge him, and get a conviction for rape and first-degree murder.

Scientific Evidence

Possible Explanations

Doctors now attempt to explain why organ recipients are hosts to donors’ memories and emotions, also known as "cellular memories". While a handful of scientists are skeptical and dismissing this strange phenomenon as post-surgery stress or reaction to anti-organ rejection drugs, there are also a growing number of experts who believe cellular memories are indeed transplanted from donor to recipient with organs.

Nothing Mystical, Pure Science

Other medical experts offer different explanations, but all agree that it is not so much mystical as it is science, and a science that needs further exploration.Professor Pr Paul Pearsall and Pr Gary Schwarz got together.

Professor Gary Schwartz says that “Feedback mechanisms are involved in learning. When we talk, for example, about how the brain learns, we talk about what we call neural networks in the brain. It turns out that the way a neural network works is that the output of the neurons feeds back into the input of the neurons. And this process goes over and over again. So long as the feedback is present the neurons will learn. If you cut the feedback, there is no learning in the neurons."

The Mind is Not Just in the Brain

Dr. Candace Pert, a pharmacologist at Georgetown University believes that the mind is not just in the brain, but also exists throughout the body. This school of thought could explain such strange transplant experiences. "The mind and body communicate with each other through chemicals known as peptides. These peptides are found in the brain as well as in the stomach, in muscles and in all of our major organs. I believe that memory can be accessed anywhere in the peptide/receptor network. For instance, a memory associated with food may be linked to the pancreas or liver and such associations can be transplanted from one person to another".

Feedback Memory

"The implication is that it's important for the neurons to have the feedback for the learning to take place. By extension, any system that has feedback is going to learn. We learn to shoot a ball into a basketball net by getting feedback about whether we are accurate or not. We learn to speak by getting feedback about whether we're accurate or not. And so consequently, any system, any set of cells that has feedback mechanisms in a network is going to learn the same way that neurons learn. That's what is called feedback memory."

Love and Emotion

A heart transplant is now a routine operation. The heart has been seen for centuries as a symbolic organ associated with love and emotion.

Scientific research today clearly shows that poets and great scholars throughout history have been right all along. The heart has intelligence and plays a particular role in our experience of emotions.

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What Do YOU Think?

Let us all know in the comments discussion what you think about the discovery that a second brain exists in heart neurons. Hopefully, it will, from now on, help you pay more attention to your intuition and trust your gut feelings.

© 2009 Juliette Kando FI Chor


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    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 5 weeks ago from Andalusia

      Hi John,

      According to reports of their experiences, transplant patients did not initially know who their donors were (it is not normal practice to reveal that information to transplant receivers). However, the changes they felt in their behavior, tastes and preferences made them wonder why such such unexplained changes occurred. Curiosity prompted them to seek out the families of their donors to investigate why those changes had taken place. Upon meeting the donors' families they found out that the new characteristics were indeed inherited from their donors through their new hearts.

    • Rock_nj profile image

      John Coviello 5 weeks ago from New Jersey

      Interesting. I always thought the second brain was in the stomach, because that's where you feel gut feelings; however, the heart is obviously a strong emotional organ, as it is associated with feelings of love.

      Those transplant stories are really interesting. I wonder if they knew what their donor did before they died, and this affected them. It would interesting if scientific studies were done on heart transplant patients that knew nothing about their donors, yet exhibited this odd personality changes.

    • Anita Hasch profile image

      Anita Hasch 6 weeks ago from Port Elizabeth

      Wow, read this hub again. Maybe science fiction is not so far off anyway.

    • Usman Umt profile image

      Usman NWU Previous 7 weeks ago

      Awesome article

    • threekeys profile image

      Threekeys 6 months ago from Australia

      As long as I can remember I have always felt that.

      When transplants started to take place, I didn't like it, because I felt you would take on the life or memories of the deceased. And, here we are. I don't want any transplants. I will go as is.

    • profile image

      Alessandro Gatti-Kraus 8 months ago

      It has becomed clear that all parts of matter have consciousness, including cells therefore it is obvious that heart thinks and feels

    • profile image

      nmo 11 months ago

      I was reading the Quran yesterday and there are always reference that thinking is done by the hearts. This was news to me so I am searched this topic.

    • profile image 11 months ago

      Read what God said in the Quran about the heart

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 12 months ago from Andalusia

      Interesting and true, Anita. Brain? Heart? It is all part of a connected whole. As a dancer, I often think with my toes.

      Thought waves are abound way before language, we just have to tune in.

    • Anita Hasch profile image

      Anita Hasch 12 months ago from Port Elizabeth

      I don't think the memories are coming from the heart in these heart transplant patients. It must come from the brain itself. I believe we only use a small percentage of our brain. Why would that be? Our brains have most probably not evolved as they should. Who knows what the human brain will be capable of in 100 years. Many people have had experience with mental telepathy, I have myself. So in the future humans may be able to communicate by thoughts without talking. In fact, I'm quite sure that in 100 years, humans will be doing things that we can only dream about.

    • Debangee Mandal profile image

      DEBANGEE MANDAL 13 months ago from India

      Very good concept. Quite an interesting and informative hub.

    • profile image

      Hosshin Ananda 14 months ago

      I run a whole course based upon the science of the heart and the brain in terms of mindfulness practice. This article uses many of the sources I also use and I certainly agree with the atirle and its central premise.

    • profile image

      Pedro Celestino dos Reis Rodrigues 14 months ago

      The article may well cite the neurocientist António Rosa Damásio work on the importance of visceral organs to the feelings and decision making.

    • profile image

      Shinze 15 months ago

      Love thus article. Read stories about this sort of thing re:heart transplant recipients years ago.

    • Ronio profile image

      Ronio 17 months ago

      Sure is true in my work. I just 'hold the space', as some of my teachers would say, and let my brain be quiet.. Very quiet. My eyes are closed and I am deeply listening with my heart through my hands. The movement just happens. If I feel stuck, I ask for 'Help' like Harry taught us. Important that people feel safe, and 'seen' and cared for /supported. It really works, and I often feel / notice the healing in my own mind (quiet) and body too. Love this work.

      Upon a lot of reflection and experience I have come to realize that this skill was a 'gift of grief' for me. The death of my wife Deborah of 37 years you could say intensely stimulated my heart for a long time. Part of my recovery has been to allow the emotions and sensations to open my capacity feel real empathy. This is so present in my work and people respond to it almost all of the time. As I continue to contribute and heal I realize that my experience with my clients is the greatest teacher of all.

    • profile image

      AslanBalaur 18 months ago

      While I am somewhat skeptical of the memory and emotional transfer along with a heart transfer., the "feedback memory" part of this article goes a long way towards describing what is often referred to as "muscle memory." The rote repetition of actions to improve the speed and/or accuracy of an action has long been a popular training technique. That the neurons that transmit sensory and motor signals for these muscles would contain some of the memory for that action is no great leap. And since the heart is a muscle, and a particularly complex one at that, that is rather dense in nerve material, I don't see that a mini-brain of a somewhat subconscious nature, would be that far fetched.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 18 months ago from Andalusia

      Hi Sarah,

      The stories are true enough, experienced by so many recipients. If you are asking for scientific evidence of the phenomenon, watch the video to the end in which prominent scientists talk about the discovery of neurons in the heart which form the heart's very own nervous system with long and short term memory just as memory works in the brain. The brain and the heart are interconnected. Current scientific research shows that the heart-brain takes care of feeling, intuition, and emotional memory before the brain to prepare the brain for action.

    • profile image

      Sarah 18 months ago

      It's interesting but I checked and there is no evidence at all that any of these stories are true.

    • profile image

      simona 18 months ago

      It was about time .. Through Buddhist meditation it was revealed already 2500 years ago that our mind is actually sitting in a spoon of blood in the heart. One can actually see in meditation how every impulse for everything happening in the body it actually starts from the mind, the big mind which is located in the heart.

    • profile image

      Ahmed Rouas 19 months ago

      I am happy that science has finally discoverd that, happy because it happened in our time.

      As Muslim I read in the Qur'an:

      " They have hearts with which they do not understand, they have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear. Those are like livestock; rather, they are more astray. It is they who are the heedless." 7/179

      And in another chapter we read:

      "So have they not traveled through the earth and have hearts by which to reason and ears by which to hear? For indeed, it is not eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are within the breasts."


      True science will never contrdict true revelation

    • profile image

      Maxi 21 months ago

      love this! watched a doco a few years back and still think about this regulary... there really is so much we just dont know about ourselves, and these vessells we call bodies.. i only hope im still knocking about if and when they discover more! lovely article, thank you! xx

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 22 months ago from Long Island, NY

      Sue, that new video you just added explained it well.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 22 months ago from Andalusia

      Hi Glenn,

      For those of you who believe that the remarkable stories are mere coincidence, watch the new video I added today. Apparently, the heart is much more than just a pump.

      The video explains, better than I ever could, the science behind the discovery of an intuitive and emotional little brain in the heart working in conjunction with the brain.

      The 2nd brain in the heart is made up of heart neurons which, in many cases, retain some of the donor's memory and experiences long after transplantation into a new body.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 22 months ago from Long Island, NY

      I find this very interesting Sue. The examples you gave sure do seem to prove that memory is also stored in neurons of the heart.

      These cases could all be coincidence. But the most extreme example is the one of the young girl who received a heart from one that was murdered and then was able to articulate enough detail to capture and convict the murderer. It's hard to write that off to coincidence.

      Although this needs further exploration, it's an interesting concept.

    • profile image

      Hassan 2 years ago

      This is found In Holly book of Islam

    • adevwriting profile image

      Arun Dev 2 years ago from United Countries of the World

      This is really wonderful! I've always believed in 'gut feelings'. Voted up!

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 3 years ago from Andalusia

      That's exactly what this hub is about Madeleine. Except this is not fiction but reality.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 4 years ago from Andalusia

      Well said Fahad, faith science are not mutually exclusive. Language alone does not begin to describe emotional truths.

    • profile image

      fahad 4 years ago

      being muslim, i believed all this stuff already, but now glad to know that science is approaching in the right way,,, still many truths are hidden regarding our Heart and Soul. i think that science is just closer to get the scientific proofs of the religious thoughts which are hard to believe on,

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 4 years ago from Andalusia

      Hi Tolovaj, thank you for the read. I too thought this was really interesting when I did the research.

    • Tolovaj profile image

      Tolovaj 4 years ago

      Interesting stuff. We know so much about universe and so little about our bodies, this would not be a surprise at all. Thanks for sharing!

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 4 years ago from Texas

      Very fascinating! Voted up, awesome and shared! :)

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 5 years ago from Andalusia

      Hello Edward and Dedi,

      I too was surprised. I had an inkling that got confirmed by doing the research for this article. There is so much that we don't yet know but one thing I'm certain of is: follow your intuition. It's trying to tell you some truth or another, however irrational it may seem.

    • profile image

      dedi sriyono 5 years ago

      I knew that we have heart brain,bcoz i also work n developed it for health.Now we call that ability is bio genesis.We can renew the cells in our body like lizzad tile.

    • profile image

      Edward111 5 years ago

      This was so interesting to read. I always had a feeling that the heart was an organ for feelings and emotions. Thank you for a revealing piece of writing Sue. Voted up.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 6 years ago from Andalusia

      Wow Nana Marie, That's amazing! Blinking against sudden bright light is a response to fear. We can all feel that many emotions come straight from the heart, like love, joy, sadness etc. The nervous system reaches all the way down to our toes. There must be a terrific collaboration of several brains working for the few who can walk on cinders or a bed of nails without getting injured. It's called Mind Control. Is the mind then the mother of all our brains (including those not yet discovered)?

    • ThussaysNanaMarie profile image

      ThussaysNanaMarie 6 years ago from In my oyster

      That was really informative!

      Did you know that in an experiment involving random reaction to flickered lights the heart always responded a fraction of a second before the eyes blinked. This suggested that the heart was more intuitive than the brain which controls the reflex action of blinking.

      The amazing human body will always confound us.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 6 years ago from Andalusia

      There you go LivingFood,

      It is very sad that science refuses to deal with instinct, emotions, premonitions, faith and all the stuff we all know from experience exists but is denied us by scientists in blind denial of their own feelings.

    • LivingFood profile image

      LivingFood 6 years ago

      I always knew this to be true from reading the Bible, but I didn't know that science had the proof to back it up. Loved the stories you shared!

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 6 years ago from Andalusia

      Thanks for the tip tsadjatko. I love the wisdom of primitive ancient cultures.

      How right you are Katrina. Believe your feelings and you can't go wrong.

    • profile image

      Katrina 6 years ago

      This is really interesting and proves the point of what we feel in our hearts.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 6 years ago from https:// online/ hubpages. html

      Hi Sue ! There is much to be learned from the allusive tsadjatko of the Quinault Indians so tune in!


    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 6 years ago from Andalusia

      Hi tsadjatko, I didn´t even know that the heart develops before the brain in an embrio. What you say is very interesting. Thank you.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 6 years ago from https:// online/ hubpages. html

      Excellent hub! You know it really isn't a stretch to believe the heart is more than meets the eye when you consider in embryogenesis (the development of an embryo) it is the first organ to appear. By the end of the third week there is now a heart beginning to beat before there is a brain. Brain waves are not detected until 6 weeks. The development of the hind brain, responsible for regulating heartbeat, breathing and all concerned muscle movements begins in the eigth week...what does that tell you? Just like mankind intuitively knows there is a God he also intuitively knows that he is not only subject to his brain but his heart.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 6 years ago from Andalusia

      Hi MellyMoo,

      Good for you.

    • MellyMoo profile image

      MellyMoo 6 years ago from Australia

      Yes, I really believe in all of this too!

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 7 years ago from Andalusia

      Very good point Kim, I found the same thing happened with a mouth organ (harmonica) however many years I haven't played it, the tunes were still there in my physical memory. It's the same with riding a bicycle or ice skating or even driving a car. Muscle co-ordination seems to be remembered, even after a very long absence from doing the actions.

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 7 years ago

      I remember when I relearned piano after not having played the piano for years, that my fingers at times would move "automatically" without waiting for me to read the notes. There were memories in my finger movements. I since learned about kinesthetic memory and learning that athletes often experience. I truly do believe there is memory in cells. Thanks for the interesting hub Sue.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 7 years ago from Andalusia

      You are right Shahid, people who believe in god think him almighty. Question is...

      Oh no, please let's not get into a religious debate on this hub.

      Thank you for dropping by.

    • profile image

      Shahid Bukhari 7 years ago

      Now you have added another dimension ... Emotion, versus Science almighty ...

      Science is the empirically Known extent of Theory. And the art of Psychology, is limited ... though they prefer to call it a Science, dealing with Emotions etc..

      Only God Is ... Almighty. Science, tries to act as one, and has insurmountable limitations.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 7 years ago from Andalusia

      You may be right Shahid.

    • Shahid Bukhari profile image

      Shahid Bukhari 7 years ago from My Awareness in Being.

      Reckon it would be closer, if we said, Pancreas, obeying the Pituitary, releasing Adrenaline, make the Heart serve as the second Brain ... you may throw in the Eyes, and other Sensories, for the heck of it.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 7 years ago from Andalusia

      Yes, acaetna isn't it good news that finally Science Almighty allows us to be emotional.

    • acaetnna profile image

      acaetnna 7 years ago from Guildford

      I am not surprised that our heart is our second brain. We feel so much in our heart. Great hub, thanks for sharing.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 7 years ago from Andalusia

      Hello kai, it surprised me too and I was so glad when I found out about us all having a second brain in our heart. It explains a lot of feelings.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 7 years ago from Andalusia

      I agree with you Claude, My gut feelings are my best friends.

    • kai777 profile image

      kai777 7 years ago from Chicago

      This was very interesting and enjoyable to read. I have heard of things like this happening with transplants, but never did any research. The human body is sooo amazing! Makes you think deeply about our Creator... Great hub!!!

    • profile image

      Claude  7 years ago

      I find this really interesting. I am so happy that knowing this information I can now trust my "gut feelings".

      Thank you Sue

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 7 years ago from Andalusia

      Yes Nutster, I heard about the intuitive brain in the stomach (sometimes referred to as the "solar plexus") after I had written Your Second Brain Is In Your Heart.

      I know that some kidney transplant recipients have also reported acquiring cellular memories from their donors. Research on the network of sympathetic nerves in the body is growing rapidly. I always said (by intuition) that ballet dancers could think with their toes. How else could we have endured the torture of pointe shoes! :)

    • profile image

      Nutster 7 years ago

      Julie......that "gut feeling" actually may have nothing to do with the heart or the brain. There appears to be evidence of the same type of findings in areas of the stomach. I am sure if you do a google on "stomach brain" you will find something. It kind of makes sense.....we know when we make a logical (brain) decision, an emotional decision (heart), or an intuitive decision (stomach). everything else.....some of us have smarter brains in different areas.

    • profile image

      Julie 8 years ago

      How interesting. I'm so glad to get re-affirmation of gut feelings.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 8 years ago from Andalusia

      The sources are varied. TED, Youtube, Books and conversations.

    • Hussains profile image

      Hussains 8 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very fascinating indeed. I was wondering about the source of all this information.Enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 8 years ago from Andalusia

      Thank you for your comments alekhouse and tantrum. I was surprised too when I found out about this. Which Clint Eastwood movie madeleine. Did he find the murderer?

    • profile image

      madeleine 8 years ago

      Great topic Sue. Reminds me of the Clint Eastwood movie where he discovers that the heart he has received is from a murdered woman. How does that fit into the scheme?

    • tantrum profile image

      tantrum 8 years ago from Tropic of Capricorn

      I find your hub very interesting. I will read it again, for there's a lot of information to think about. Thanks ! :)

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Sue, this is absolutely facinating. Thanks so much for writing a hub on this topic.


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