The Coherent Heart: Heart–Brain Interactions, Psychophysiological Coherence, and the Emergence of System-Wide Order
Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., Mike Atkinson, Dana Tomasino, B.A., and Raymond Trevor Bradley, Ph.D.1
Integral Review, December 2009, Vol. 5, No. 2
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This article presents theory and research on the scientific study of emotion that emphasizes the importance of coherence as an optimal psychophysiological state. A dynamic systems view of the interrelations between psychological, cognitive and emotional systems and neural communication networks in the human organism provides a foundation for the view presented. These communication networks are examined from an information processing perspective and reveal a fundamental order in heart-brain interactions and a harmonious synchronization of physiological systems associated with positive emotions. The concept of coherence is drawn on to understand optimal functioning which is naturally reflected in the heart’s rhythmic patterns. Research is presented identifying various psychophysiological states linked to these patterns, with neurocardiological coherence emerging as having significant impacts on well being. These include psychophysiological as well as improved cognitive performance. From this, the central role of the heart is explored in terms of biochemical, biophysical and energetic interactions. Appendices provide further details and research on; psychophysiological functioning, reference previous research in this area, details on research linking coherence with optimal cognitive performance, heart brain synchronization and the energetic signature of the various psychophysiological modes.