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Research Library

The Role of Physiological Coherence in the Detection and Measurement of Cardiac Energy Exchange Between People

    • Published: 1999
    • R. McCraty, M. Atkinson, W. Tiller
    • Proceedings of the Tenth International Montreux Congress on Stress, Montreux, Switzerland, 1999.


The concept of an energy exchange between individuals is central to many of the healing arts that involve contact or proximity between practitioner and patient. One main obstacle to the acceptance of these therapies by Western science has been the lack of a plausible mechanism to explain the nature of this energy or how it is exchanged. The fact that the heart generates the strongest electromagnetic field produced by the body, coupled with the discovery that this field becomes more coherent as the individual shifts to a loving or caring state, prompted us to investigate the possibility that the heart’s field may contribute to this energy exchange. Signal averaging techniques are used to show that when two individuals touch or are in proximity, one’s electrocardiogram (ECG) signal is registered in the other person’s electroencephalogram (EEG). While the transmission of the signal is strongest when people are in contact, the effect is still detectable when subjects are in proximity without contact. Our results suggest that the signal transferred is electromagnetic in origin and that some component of it is radiated. We have also found the degree of coherence in the individuals’ cardiac rhythms to be an important factor in determining if biological synchronization occurs between the two subjects, especially when subjects are separated by larger distances. This study is one of the first successful attempts to directly measure an energy exchange between people, and provides a testable theory to explain the observed effects of many healing modalities. Nonlinear stochastic resonance is discussed as a mechanism by which weak, coherent electromagnetic fields, such as that generated by the heart, may be amplified by biological tissue and produce measurable effects in living systems. One implication is that the effects of therapeutic techniques involving contact or proximity between practitioner and patient could be amplified by practitioners and patients consciously introducing increased coherence into their cardiac field.