Modern neuroscience makes some startling claims about the human heart. The organ beating our chests is the major center of our intelligence. Since I’ve ‘been in my head’ most of my life I find this fascinating … and unnerving. I’ve never been good with feelings!

Apparently molecular biologists have discovered that the heart is the body’s most important endocrine gland. It produces and releases a major hormone that profoundly impacts every operation in the ’emotional’ brain. Scientists say that 60 to 65% of the cells of the heart are actually neural cells, not muscle cells. They are identical to the neural cells in the brain.

What all this adds up to is this … there is literally a ‘brain’ in our hearts. It is linked to every major organ in the body and to the entire muscle spindle system that uniquely enables humans to express their emotions. About half the heart’s neural cells are involved in translating information sent to it from all over the body so that it can keep the body working as one harmonious whole. The other half make up an unmediated neural connection with the emotional brain in our head.

The heart of the matter? Our hearts organize and control the entire human system. This is why the heart is the first organ developed in the womb. It has to be there to oversee the baby’s development. And it never stops overseeing things. Literally!

One of the implications of this which scientists are noting is the priority and power of emotions. Somehow the heart’s involvement in emotional development is foundational to everything else about us (i.e. cognition, volition, memory, desire, etc.). “It all begins with feeling unconditionally wanted, accepted, and loved.”

It’s no surprise that John 3:16 touches us as it does. And the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). And why Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart (Matthew 22:37).

Guess it would do me good to spend my last years getting down to the heart of the matter … not simply feeding my brain but nurturing my heart.