Navigation Links
'Gut Instinct' May Stem From the Heart
Date:1/6/2011

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Everyone feels gut instincts at one time or another: Marry that guy! Don't take that job. Stay inside during this snowstorm! Now, a new study suggests there is indeed a link between your heartbeat and the decisions you make.

"These findings can help explain how we make key choices in life -- for example, which house to buy, which job to go for -- for better or for worse," explained study author Barnaby D. Dunn, a clinical psychologist who works with the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, England.

The findings don't indicate that your heart is very good at giving you insight into what to do. And the research doesn't point to any particular way to get better at decision making. Still, the study does manage to find evidence that there's something to the idea of trusting your heart.

"I work as a clinical psychologist, and I have been struck in my therapy practice how clients often describe their emotions and decisions in terms of what is happening in their bodies -- for example, feeling brokenhearted or following their gut instincts," Dunn said. "I wanted to see if there was a scientific basis to the idea that what happens in our bodies shapes our minds."

The researchers tried to find a link between heart and mind by first testing participants to see if they could estimate how fast their hearts were beating. "Participants are instructed to try to 'feel' their heart internally and not to directly measure their pulse with their fingers," Dunn said. "Most people say they are guessing at the tracking task and are unconfident in their performance, and yet there are marked differences in how accurate their estimates are. Only around one-fifth of people show high levels of accuracy."

Researchers then tried to elicit emotions from the participants by showing them photos of happy things (like a cute puppy) and not-so-happy things (a disgusting plate of food). They then tried to link people's responses to their ability to monitor their heart rates.

"People's arousal turned out to be related to changes in their heart rate," Dunn said. "And this link was stronger in people who were more aware of their own heartbeat. So how people felt depended in part on how well they could sense the status of their own bodies."

"This suggests that what happens in our bodies really does shape how we feel emotionally," he said.

In a second experiment, the participants played a card game that emphasized intuition instead of strategy. "The quality of the advice that people's bodies gave them varied," Dunn said. "Some people's gut feelings were spot on, meaning they mastered the card game quickly. Other people's bodies told them exactly the wrong moves to make, so they learned slowly or never found a way to win. This link between gut feelings and intuitive decision making was stronger in people who were more aware of their own heartbeat."

What's the connection between the heart and brain? Dunn said one theory goes like this: "The 'emotional' parts of the brain generate the bodily response in the first place. The 'rational' parts of the brain then listen in to these bodily responses to find out what the 'emotional' parts of the brain are doing. This allows both logic and emotion to shape our choices."

Dunn said better understanding of the link between the body and the mind might eventually help people who struggle with depression and anxiety.

"We know that anxious people are hyper-aware of the body, whereas those who are depressed are out of touch with the body," he said. "Training the ability to tune in and out of the body may be beneficial for these individuals."

The study was published in the December issue of Psychological Science.

More information

The American Heart Association has information on how the brain works.

SOURCES: Barnaby D. Dunn, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, England; December 2010 Psychological Science


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. York U study pinpoints part of brain that suppresses instinct
2. Fish Oil May Help Some Heart Failure Patients
3. Smog Contributes to Dangerous Heart Rhythm Disorders
4. More Evidence Links Avastin to Heart Failure in Breast Cancer Patients
5. Higher Education May Benefit Some Heart Attack Patients
6. Roundup: 2010 Advances in Heart Disease and Stroke Care
7. Scientists Spot DNA Linked With Dangerous Heart Rhythms
8. Maybe Scrooge Couldnt Help Being Hard-Hearted
9. Demanding Relatives May Raise Heart Risks in Middle Age
10. Top research highlighted in fight against heart disease and stroke
11. Guidelines Eased for Patients With Irregular Heartbeats
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
'Gut Instinct' May Stem From the Heart
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... ... Our bodies are bombarded daily by environmental and lifestyle factors that can ... to adopt a more healthful diet, but too many people think that food has ... and the creator of the Newport Beach Cleanse and 14-Day Eating Plan, disagrees whole-heartedly. ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... The ... nation’s productivity, stability, even security. Most importantly, employees are the single most important ... are American workers so unhappy? , Just under half of American workers are ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... ... more flexibility in repaying their loans, more information about their loan terms and ... total outstanding student loan debt, including federal and private loans, has reached $1.3 ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... , ... Coast Dental Fort Stewart is celebrating its grand opening with an ... Furniture Mall at 112 Vilseck Road in Fort Stewart. There will be refreshments, giveaways, ... have the opportunity to meet general dentists Thomas Richards, DDS, and Josh Faulk, DMD, ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... Spine Team Texas, a comprehensive spine physician group ... of their physicians has been invited to be a featured speaker at the Texas ... conference on April 30, 2016. , Dr. R. Scott McPherson, a physical medicine ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:4/28/2016)... 28, 2016 , Net Sales of $1.90 ... over the prior year period, and an increase of 1.2% ... Diluted EPS for the first quarter were $0.52 reported, a ... adjusted, an increase of 29.9% over the prior year period ... earnings guidance for 2016 Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc. ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... 2016  ValGenesis, Inc., the market leader ... today announced that a prominent world provider ... chronic kidney failure has selected ValGenesis Validation ... validation process. The global medical device manufacturer ... manage their validation processes electronically. Upon completion ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... Schweiz, April 27, 2016 ... CEO Forums in Zürich gab Strekin AG ... Wirkstoffkandidaten STR001 zur Erhaltung des Resthörvermögens von ... bekannt. Für die umfassende Phase-II-Doppelblindstudie mit Placebo-Kontrollgruppe ... angeworben. STR001 wird während der Operation direkt ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: