The Electricity of Touch: Detection and Measurement of Cardiac Energy Exchange Between People

Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., Mike Atkinson, Dana Tomasino, B.A., and William A. Tiller, Ph.D.

In: Karl H. Pribram, ed. Brain and Values: Is a Biological Science of Values Possible. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 1998: 359-379.

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1. Summary
2. Introduction
3. Methods
4. Experimental Examples
5. Discussion
6. Future Discussions
7. References


The idea that an energy exchange of some type occurs between individuals is a central theme in many healing techniques. This concept has often been disputed by Western science due to the lack of a plausible mechanism to explain the nature of this energy or how it could affect or facilitate the healing process. The fact that the heart generates the strongest electromagnetic field produced by the body, coupled with the recent discovery that this field becomes more coherent as the individual shifts to a sincerely loving or caring state prompted us to investigate the possibility that the field generated by the heart may significantly contribute to this energy exchange.

We present a sampling of results which provide intriguing evidence that an exchange of electromagnetic energy produced by the heart occurs when people touch or are in proximity. Signal averaging techniques are used to show that one's electrocardiogram (ECG) signal is registered in another person's electroencephalogram (EEG) and elsewhere on the other person's body. While this signal is strongest when people are in contact, it is still detectable when subjects are in proximity without contact.

This study represents one of the first successful attempts to directly measure an energy exchange between people, and provides a solid, testable theory to explain the observed effects of many healing modalities that are based upon the assumption that an energy exchange takes place. Nonlinear stochastic resonance is discussed as a mechanism by which weak, coherent electromagnetic fields, such as those generated by the heart of an individual in a caring state, may be detected and amplified by biological tissue, and potentially 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 consciously adopting a sincere caring attitude, and thus introducing increased coherence into their cardiac field.