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The Scientific Role of the Heart in Learning and Performance

  • HearthMath Institute


The scientific, philosophical, and pedagogical foundation of the Institute of HeartMath's education initiative is based on leading-edge scientific research conducted during the past several decades on how stress and emotions impact learning and performance. It may be surprising to some to learn the critical role the heart plays in regulat- ing the autonomic nervous system and in affecting our emotional experience. The following material provides a brief overview and explanation of these new scientific discoveries and some of their implications for education. Overview Throughout history, many cultures and spiritual traditions have shared a regard for the heart as a source of wisdom and positive emotions. Recent scientific discoveries suggest that these long-surviving associations may indeed be more than merely metaphorical. In particular, new understanding of the physiology of posi- tive emotions and the key role played by the heart in the generation of emotional experience have exciting implications for higher-order thinking skills, learner readiness, decision making, and test-taking, as well as for social and emotional behavior. Based on this research, practical tools have been developed that enable students to self-regulate the physiological processes underlying effective learning and performance. Outcome studies show that use of these tools is associated with both academic and social-emotional improvements in students ranging from elementary to college level.
The scientific, philosophical, and pedagogical foundation of the Institute of HeartMath’s education initiative is
based on leading-edge scientific research conducted during the past several decades on how stress and emotions
impact learning and performance. It may be surprising to some to learn the critical role the heart plays in regulat-
ing the autonomic nervous system and in affecting our emotional experience. The following material provides a
brief overview and explanation of these new scientific discoveries and some of their implications for education.
Throughout history, many cultures and spiritual traditions have shared a regard for the heart as a source of
wisdom and positive emotions. Recent scientific discoveries suggest that these long-surviving associations
may indeed be more than merely metaphorical. In particular, new understanding of the physiology of posi-
tive emotions and the key role played by the heart in the generation of emotional experience have exciting
implications for higher-order thinking skills, learner readiness, decision making, and test-taking, as well as
for social and emotional behavior. Based on this research, practical tools have been developed that enable
students to self-regulate the physiological processes underlying effective learning and performance. Outcome
studies show that use of these tools is associated with both academic and social-emotional improvements in
students ranging from elementary to college level.
A new view of emotion
Research conducted throughout the past decade has challenged several longstanding assumptions about
emotions. For example, psychologists once maintained that emotions were purely mental expressions gener-
ated by the brain alone. However, we now know that emotions have as much to do with the body as they do
with the brain. Research has shown that neurological and hormonal signals flowing to the brain from many
bodily organs and systems not only play a role in regulating physiological functions, but also influence
higher brain centers involved in perception and emotional processing.
Furthermore, it appears that perti-
nent information is transmitted not only in the amplitude (strength or amount) of these bodily signals, but
also in their rhythm and pattern.
1, 5-7
The role of the heart
Although input originating from many different bodily organs and systems is involved in determining our
emotional experience, recent research provides evidence that input from the heart may play a particularly
important role.
As a primary and consistent generator of rhythmic information patterns in the human body, and
possessing a far more extensive communication system with the brain than do other major organs, the heart
exerts a unique and far-reaching influence on the brain and the entire body. It is now well-established that the
The Scientific Role of the Heart
in Learning and Performance
Rollin McCraty, Ph.D.
HeartMath Research Center, Institute of HeartMath, Publication No. 02-030, Boulder Creek, CA, 2002.
Address for correspondence: Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., HeartMath Research Center, Institute of HeartMath, 14700 West Park Avenue, Boulder Creek,
CA 95006. Phone: 831.338.8500, Fax: 831.338.1182, Email: Institute of HeartMath web site:
© Copyright 2003 Institute of HeartMath
heart is far more than a simple pump. It also functions as a hormonal gland, a sensory organ, and an informa-
tion encoding and processing center, with an extensive intrinsic nervous system sufficiently sophisticated to
qualify as a “heart brain.” Its neural circuitry effectively enables it to learn, remember, and make functional
decisions independent of the cranial brain.
With every beat, the heart transmits to the brain and throughout the
body complex patterns of neurological, hormonal, pressure, and electromagnetic information, which form a
major component of the physiological backdrop that ultimately determines our emotional experience.
Emotions are reflected in the heart’s rhythms
One research tool that has proven particularly valuable in examining the interactions between the heart and
brain is the analysis of heart rate variability. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, the rhythmic beat of the heart
is not monotonously regular, but rather varies dynamically from moment to moment. The term heart rate
variability (HRV) is used to refer to these naturally-occurring, beat-to-beat changes in heart rate, which are
reflective of heart-brain interactions and autonomic nervous system dynamics. Recent research has revealed
that heart rate variability patterns, or heart rhythms, are remarkably responsive to changes in emotional
Specifically, during the experience of stress and negative emotions such as anger, frustration, or
anxiety, heart rhythms become more erratic and disordered, indicating desynchonization in the reciprocal
action between the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system (Figure 1). In
simple terms, feeling stressed causes our system to get “out of sync”—not only mentally and emotionally, but
also physiologically. When the two branches of the autonomic nervous system are out of sync with each other,
it is similar to driving a car with one foot on the accelerator (the sympathetic nervous system) and the other on
the brake (the parasympathetic nervous system) at the same time. The result is incoherence, increased energy
consumption, and added wear and tear on the entire system.
In contrast, sustained positive emotions, such as appreciation, love, and compassion, are associated with
highly ordered or coherent patterns in the heart rhythms, reflecting greater synchronization between the two
branches of the autonomic nervous system and increased physiological efficiency
(Figure 1). Thus, sin-
cerely experiencing positive feelings helps us get (and stay) “in sync.”
Figure 1. The heart rate variability pattern shown in the left graph, characterized by its random, jerky form, is typical of feelings of
anger or frustration. This reflects a desynchronization in the activity between the two branches of the autonomic nervous system.
Sincere positive feeling states like appreciation (right) can result in highly ordered and coherent HRV patterns, generally associated
with enhanced cognitive performance and emotional stability. These patterns also reflect increased synchronized activity between the
two branches of the autonomic nervous system.
060120 180
Time (seconds)
060120 180
Time (seconds)
© Copyright 2003 Institute of HeartMath
Different patterns in the heart’s rhythms and nervous system activity also affect the synchronized activity in the
brain, which is the very basis of perception and cognition, including higher-order thinking skills. During emo-
tional stress, when the heart transmits a disordered signal to the brain and activity in the nervous system is
chaotic or desynchronized, higher cognitive functions are inhibited—limiting our ability to think clearly, focus,
remember, learn, and reason. (This can help explain why we often can’t think clearly, make careless mistakes,
and have trouble retrieving information from memory when under stress.) In contrast, during positive feeling
states, when the heart transmits an ordered, coherent signal to the brain and nervous system activity is harmoni-
ous and synchronized, our higher cognitive abilities are facilitated—often resulting in enhanced focus, memory
recall, comprehension, and creativity.
Physiological coherence: Increasing nervous system harmony and emotional stability
Our research on the heart’s rhythms and emotions has led us to identify a distinct mode of physiological
functioning that is associated with the experience of heartfelt positive emotions. We have introduced the
term physiological coherence to describe this mode. Correlates of physiological coherence include a
smooth, sine wave-like pattern in the heart rhythms, decreased sympathetic nervous system activation and
increased parasympathetic activity, increased heart-brain synchronization (the brain’s alpha rhythms become
more synchronized to the heartbeat), increased vascular resonance, and entrainment among diverse physi-
ological oscillatory systems.
5-7, 10
These physiological changes result in a highly efficient state in which the
body, brain, and nervous system function with increased synchronization and harmony—in other words,
creating a state of being highly “in sync.” The practice of techniques that increase physiological coherence
has been associated with favorable health-related outcomes in both healthy and various clinical popula-
11, 13-16
Moreover, data suggest that the physiological coherence mode is also associated with greater
emotional stability, a reduction in the perception of stress and negative emotions, and an increase in the
experience of sustained positive emotions.
Physiological coherence improves cognitive performance
Intriguingly, recent experiments conducted at the Institute of HeartMath provide evidence that increasing
physiological coherence also improves cognitive performance.
7, 17
In these investigations, participants’ perfor-
mance on a cognitive task requiring focus and attention, discrimination, and a quick and accurate reaction
was compared before and after they used a positive emotion-refocusing technique to increase physiological
coherence. Results were compared with those of a control group who performed the same cognitive task
before and after a relaxation period. Results showed that participants who increased heart rhythm coherence
demonstrated a significant improvement in cognitive performance. In contrast, the control group showed no
increase in heart rhythm coherence or improvement in performance after they engaged in a relaxation exer-
cise (Figure 2). In addition, a significant correlation was found between the degree of heart rhythm coherence
and performance across all subjects during all tasks—illustrating, in essence, that the more coherent or in
sync we are, the better our cognitive performance. The results of this study suggest that the generation of the
coherent mode may lead to changes in the brain’s information-processing capabilities that can result in
measurable improvements in performance on tasks requiring cognitive abilities such as focus, attention, and
© Copyright 2003 Institute of HeartMath
Tools to increase physiological coherence
Based on the research described above, the Institute of HeartMath has developed new, positive emotion-
focused tools and technologies that enable students to systematically increase physiological coherence and
emotional stability, thereby improving both academic and social-emotional outcomes.
Collectively known
as the HeartMath
system, these techniques utilize the heart as a point of entry into the psychophysiological
networks that underlie emotional experience.
19, 21
As discussed, because the heart is a primary generator of
rhythmic patterns in the body—influencing brain processes that control the autonomic nervous system,
cognitive function and emotion—it provides an access point from which system-wide dynamics can be
quickly and profoundly affected.
In brief, HeartMath techniques combine a shift in the focus of attention to the area around the heart (where
many people subjectively feel positive emotions) with the intentional self-induction of a sincere positive
emotional state, such as appreciation. Such a shift in focus and feeling serves to increase heart rhythm coher-
ence and nervous system harmony, which results in a change in the pattern of neurological signals sent to the
cognitive and emotional centers in the brain. This, in turn, facilitates higher cognitive faculties and emotion
regulation abilities that are normally compromised during stress or negative emotional states, thus sharpen-
ing one’s discernment abilities, increasing resourcefulness, and often enabling problematic issues, interac-
tions, or decisions to be assessed and dealt with from a broader, more emotionally balanced perspective.
Positive emotion-focused, coherence-building techniques are effective in helping to stabilize nervous system
dynamics in real time—for example, when used in the midst of a potentially stressful situation that otherwise
might have drained both physical and mental resources. However, the use of such techniques is also associ-
ated with benefits that extend well beyond the present moment. Research studies have shown that people of
all ages who regularly use HeartMath techniques experience enduring improvements in many aspects of their
lives, including health, emotional well-being, attitudes, behaviors and relationships.
11-13, 16
Research suggests
that these enduring benefits stem from the fact that as people learn to generate physiological coherence with
increasing consistency, a system-wide repatterning process occurs, whereby the associated synchronized,
Experimental Group Control Group
Before Intervention ADT After Intervention ADT
Mean Reaction Times
Mean Reaction Time (ms)
Figure 2. Mean reaction times for the experimental
versus control group during the first (pre-
intervention) and second (post-intervention) auditory
discrimination tasks (ADT). Auditory discrimination
tasks are well-established tests of cognitive
performance that measure the participants' ability
to focus and pay attention, discriminate subtle
differences, and quickly and accurately react. By
using HeartMath techniques to generate a state of
increased heart rhythm coherence, the experimental
group achieved a significant reduction in mean
reaction time, indicative of improved cognitive
performance. Note that control group participants,
who simply relaxed during the interval between tests,
showed no change in mean reaction time from the
first to the second discrimination task.
Increased Heart Rhythm Coherence
Improves Cognitive Performance
© Copyright 2003 Institute of HeartMath
harmonious patterns of activity become ever more familiar to the brain and nervous system. These patterns
thus become established in the neural architecture as a new, stable baseline or norm, which the system then
strives to maintain. The result is that unhealthy or maladaptive patterns are progressively replaced with ones
that foster increased physiological efficiency, mental acuity, and emotional stability. Moreover, even when
one experiences stress, challenge, or emotional instability, the familiar, coherent, stable state is more quickly
and easily accessible.
At the physiological level, the occurrence of such a repatterning process is supported by data showing that
individuals well-practiced in coherence-building techniques often enter and sustain this mode spontaneously
during their day-to-day activities, without conscious application of the techniques. We propose that the
progressive establishment of new, healthier patterns in the neural architecture is what permits the practice of
coherence-building techniques to produce the long-term improvements in emotion regulation abilities,
behaviors, and health that have been documented by research studies in diverse populations.
HeartMath tools include positive emotion-refocusing techniques such as Freeze-Frame,
which enable individu-
als to modify their responses to stress in real time, and emotional restructuring techniques such as Attitude
Breathing and Heart Lock-In,
which build the capacity to sustain positive emotions and physiological
coherence for longer periods. These tools are designed as simple, easy-to-use, low-cost interventions that can be
adapted to virtually any culture or sub-culture, age group, or educational context. In addition, these and other
HeartMath tools have recently been incorporated in an educational curriculum known as TestEdge,
focuses specifically on reducing test anxiety and improving test performance in order to empower students to
survive and even thrive in the stress-ridden environments of standards-based education and violent communities.
Heart rhythm coherence feedback training
Heart rhythm feedback training is a powerful tool to assist students in using positive emotion-focused tech-
niques effectively and learning to self-generate increased physiological coherence.
Physiological coherence
can be noninvasively monitored, quantified, and facilitated using practical technologies adaptable for class-
room and counseling settings. One such device is the Freeze-Framer
heart rhythm-monitoring and coher-
ence-building system (HeartMath LLC, Boulder Creek, CA). This interactive hardware/software system
monitors and displays individuals’ heart rate variability patterns in real time as they practice the positive
emotion-focused techniques taught in an included tutorial program. Using a fingertip sensor to record the
pulse wave, the Freeze-Framer plots changes in heart rate on a beat-to-beat basis. As students practice the
techniques, they can readily see and experience the changes in their heart rhythm patterns, which generally
become more ordered, smoother, and more sine wave-like as they feel appreciation and other positive emo-
tions (see Figure 1). This process reinforces the natural association between the physiological coherence
mode and positive feelings. The real-time physiological feedback also essentially takes the guesswork and
randomness out of the process of self-inducing a positive emotional state, resulting in greater consistency,
focus, and effectiveness in practicing emotional shifts.
The software also analyzes the heart rhythm patterns for coherence, which data is fed back to the user as an
accumulated score or success in playing one of three enjoyable on-screen games designed to reinforce the
emotion-refocusing skills. Finally, the software includes a multi-user database to store results and track users’
Motivated & Supported
Work Management/Focused
Energized vs. Defeated
Peer Influence
Leadership Skills
Risky Behavior
Pre HeartMath
Post HeartMath
Rank Percentile
Achievement Aptitude
Teacher Comfort
Anger Management
Assertive vs. Shy
Peer Support/Satisfaction
Peer Empathy/Outgoing
Family Support/Satisfaction
Family Compliance/Participation
School Attitude
Locus of Control
Stress Management
Idealistic vs. Realistic
Interpersonal Skills Mental Attitudes
Figure 3. Psychological and behavioral improvements in at-risk seventh grade students after learning HeartMath tools and techniques.
Educational outcomes
Programs incorporating HeartMath tools and the Freeze-Framer coherence-building technology have been
introduced at the elementary, middle school, high school, and college levels across the U.S. and have been
demonstrated to improve emotional well-being, classroom behaviors, learning, and academic performance.
One collaborative research study by the Institute of HeartMath and the Miami Heart Research Institute was
conducted in a Miami area middle school with sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students. In this study, a
HeartMath program was incorporated in the middle school curriculum, first as a two-week in-class program
and subsequently as a full-year elective course. The program was designed to reinforce resiliency skills and
positive citizenship among students, while counteracting the negative effects of mental and emotional stress
on learning. Application of the HeartMath tools was reinforced through a variety of fun, experiential games
and activities, including participation in a cross-age mentoring program with elementary school students. The
course also included an emotional physiology education component, using HeartMath’s interactive Freeze-
Framer system, in which students were given the opportunity to see changes in their heart rhythm patterns in
real time as they practiced the Freeze-Frame and Heart Lock-In techniques. The Achievement Inventory
Measure (AIM) was used to assess changes in psychosocial functioning, including measures of students’
achievement aptitude, mental attitudes, and interpersonal skills.
Results showed that students who learned and practiced the HeartMath tools exhibited significant improve-
ments in nearly all areas of psychosocial functioning assessed, including stress and anger management, self-
reliance, risky behavior, work management and focus, and relationships with teachers, family and peers
(Figure 3). Further, a follow-up analysis indicated that many of these improvements were sustained over the
following six months.
© Copyright 2003 Institute of HeartMath
A second phase of the study examined the impact of the
HeartMath techniques on children’s physiological responses to
stress. Students’ heart rate variability, as a measure of cardio-
vascular and nervous system dynamics, was assessed immedi-
ately prior to, during, and following a structured interview
designed to elicit emotional responses to real-life stressful
issues. Results showed that children who used the Freeze-
Frame technique to recover from acute emotional stress were
able to favorably modulate their physiological stress responses
in real time, thus demonstrating increased stress resiliency in
relation to a control group that did not learn the technique.
Another study conducted by clinical psychologist Dr. Pam
Aasen, reading curriculum specialist Stephanie Thurik, and the
Minneapolis Public School District examined the impact of
HeartMath tools and technology on reducing test-taking anxi-
ety and improving test scores in high school students. Twenty
high school seniors, all of whom had previously failed their
state-required exit exams and who needed to re-take the tests in order to graduate, participated in a three-week
intensive test preparation program. In addition to academic material in reading and math, the course included
approximately eight hours of instruction in HeartMath tools, with an emphasis on reducing test-related anxiety
and instilling greater emotional stability and self-confidence. Students received heart rhythm feedback train-
ing with the Freeze-Framer to help them learn how to
self-generate physiological coherence and increase
nervous system harmony.
After the program, the students showed improve-
ments in test-taking performance that greatly ex-
ceeded those achieved through standard academic
preparation alone. The HeartMath group demon-
strated a mean increase of 35% in math scores and a
14% increase in reading scores on the Minnesota
Basic Standards Tests—gains that represented one to
two years’ growth in academic skills. Students’
passing rates on the exams also improved substan-
tially after the three-week program. Of the trained
students re-taking the math test, 64% passed, as
compared to the district average of 42% for all
seniors re-taking the test at that time. For reading, the
trained group’s passing rate was 55%, as compared
to the district average of 31% (Figure 4). As
pared to a control group, the HeartMath-trained
students also demonstrated significant improve-
% achieving passing grade
HeartMath Group
District Average
% achieving passing grade
Math Proficiency Reading Proficiency
Passing Rates for High School Seniors:
HeartMath Group vs. District Average
(Minnesota Basic Standards Tests)
Figure 4. Percentage of HeartMath-trained students
passing the Minnesota Basic Standards Tests in math
and reading, as compared to the district average
passing rate for all seniors re-taking the tests at that
same time.
Paranoid Ideation
Interpersonal Sensitivity
Global Severity Index
Symptom Total
ymptom Distress Index
-80% -60% -40% -20% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
% Change in BSI Scores
Control Group
HeartMath Group
Psychological Improvements in High School
Seniors Following HeartMath Training
Figure 5. Significant reductions in symptoms of psychological
distress (Brief Symptom Inventory) experienced by HeartMath-
trained students from pre to post-training, as compared to students
in an untrained control group. Asterisks denote significant
differences between the two groups in raw score means from time
one to time two. *p< .05, **p< .01, ***p< .001.
© Copyright 2003 Institute of HeartMath
ments in emotional well-being following the program, as measured
by the Brief Symptom Inventory. These included reductions in
hostility, depression, interpersonal sensitivity (feelings of personal
inadequacy, inferiority and self-doubt), paranoid ideation (fearful-
ness, suspiciousness and mistrust), somatization (physical symp-
toms due to stress), and global indices of distress
(Figure 5).
The success of the Minneapolis pilot program led to a subsequent
study in Houston, which substantiated the positive impact of the
HeartMath program on test-taking. As part of their preparation for
the Exit Level Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) test, a
group of high school juniors and seniors practiced the HeartMath
coherence-building skills while studying the TAAS preparation
materials to help raise their test scores. The students began their
actual testing session with the Heart Lock-In technique to assist
them in reaching a state of physiological coherence before begin-
ning the TAAS Test, and they were also encouraged to use the
Freeze-Frame technique while answering test questions to facilitate the retrieval of information. One hundred
percent of the seniors in the program passed the TAAS Test, compared with 71% of seniors in a control
group that received standard test preparation alone. Of the junior program participants, 63% passed the test
as compared to 50% of the junior control group participants (Figure 6). After completion of the program, the
trained students’ scores on the Brief Symptom Inventory also indicated significant reductions in anxiety,
hostility, and general psychological distress, as compared to the control group.
HeartMath tools and technology have also been success-
fully implemented in many elementary school classrooms
across the nation. One independent study conducted at an
inner city Phoenix elementary school examined the impact
of the HeartMath tools on a small group of fifth and sixth
grade Special Education students with learning disabilities.
Most of the students suffered from a high level of emo-
tional stress and had significant behavior and academic
problems. In their regular classes, the students had already
practiced a variety of learning methodologies for years,
with very minimal improvement, and their self-esteem was
extremely low. The students took part in a three-week
summer course designed to improve reading skills and
thereby allow the children to be promoted to the next grade.
The class met for 1.25 hours each day for a total of 14 days
within a three-week period. Given the short time period
available and the instructors perception of the children’s
true needs, the course focused primarily on teaching the
students the HeartMath tools and provided very little
12th Grade 11th Grade
HeartMath Group
Control Group
% of students passing
Figure 6. Percentage of HeartMath-trained
students passing the Texas Assessment of
Academic Skills Test, as compared to a control
Passing Rates for High School Students:
HeartMath vs. Control Group
(Texas Assessment of Academic Skills)
Figure 7. Average improvement in reading skills in fifth
and sixth grade students with learning disabilities after
the children practiced HeartMath techniques for three
weeks. Reading skills were measured by the Wide Range
Achievement Test test before and after the program, and
scores shown represent average reading grade level.
These Special Education students demonstrated an
average improvement of 1.5 years’ growth in reading
proficiency over the three-week period.
Improvement in Reading Skills in Special
Education Students After HeartMath Program
Baseline 3 Weeks
Reading skills (grade level)
Average Reading Skills
© Copyright 2003 Institute of HeartMath
traditional reading instruction. Pre- and post-intervention evaluations of students’ reading proficiency were
conducted using the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT). Additionally, changes in classroom behaviors
were assessed by observational methods.
By the end of the three weeks, tremendous improvements in children’s attitudes and behavior were readily
apparent. Moreover, all of the students’ reading scores improved dramatically, ranging from a two-month
jump in reading proficiency for a bilingual student to over three years’ growth for the highest performers
(average growth of 1.5 years in grade level)
(Figure 7). The instructors conclusion: “When techniques are
presented that children are able to internalize and use to reduce stress, reduce the emotional pain of per-
ceived failure, develop more sensitive communication, and relax, they are able to access what they have
already learned.”
Summary and Conclusions
In summary, research suggests that by learning to increase physiological coherence, students can increase
nervous system harmony, thereby improving emotional stability, cognitive functioning, and academic
performance. Physiological coherence can be noninvasively measured and facilitated in school settings
using heart-based, positive emotion-focused techniques in combination with heart rhythm feedback tech-
nologies. Such approaches have been associated with improvements in standardized test scores, classroom
behaviors, and social-emotional outcomes within a relatively brief time frame in studies conducted in
diverse student populations. Collectively, results suggest that the integration of heart-based tools and tech-
nologies in educational curricula may be an efficient and effective means to facilitate both the academic and
emotional development of our students.
HeartMath, Freeze-Frame, and Heart Lock-In are registered trademarks of the Institute of HeartMath. TestEdge is a trademark of the Institute of
HeartMath. Freeze-Framer is a registered trademark of Quantum Intech, Inc.
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© Copyright 2003 Institute of HeartMath
... However such roles are emphasized by the scientists in the past with the brain in the head. Recent studies [1,2] shows that the heart be in touch with the brain in information processing, emotion, perception and physical condition. In this article we review those viewpoints that advocate hearts role beyond the pumping machine. ...
... Some assigns the central role to the heart while other assigns this role to the brain. In some studies it is argued that many of the functionality like sensation, emotion, intuition, thinking, information processing and coherence are related to the brain [1] while other studies argue that the important characteristic like thinking power, processing and many others capabilities are not restricted to brain [13,12]. There are views that heart contains neurons which provide the ability for thinking, sensing and maintaining its operations. ...
... Heart and brain communicate in a manner that considerably affects how we pick out and respond to the world. Heart is a sensory organ and refined center place for getting and processing information [1]. The heart has its own unusual logic that repeatedly diverged from the way of the autonomic nervous system. ...
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Heart in the human body is a muscular organ that pumps blood to the different organs. However, there are some studies that advocate for some additional functionality of the human heart. Our long term goal is to visualize this extra ordinary role of the human heart through computer technology. In this article we present our initial study about the different views from ancient philosophers to modern scientists that believed hearts role beyond the pumping machine. We believe that this initial study will also be interesting for research community of the social science field.
... Abstrakt: Porucha pozornosti s hyperaktivitou (ADHD) je v súčasnosti často vyskytujúca sa neurovývinová porucha u detí. Biofeedback tréningy znižujú stres, úzkosť, navodzujú relaxáciu a pozitívne emócie, zlepšujú pozornosť, učenie a akademický výkon (McCraty, 2003). Príspevok sleduje základné psychofyziologické modality u detí s ADHD a ich zmeny v procese biofeedback tréningu. ...
... Abstract: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is currently a frequently occurring neurodevelopmental disorder in children. Biofeedback trainings reduce stress, anxiety, induce relaxation and positive emotions, improve attention, learning and academic performance (McCraty, 2003). The paper follows basic psychophysiological modalities in children with ADHD and their changes in the process of biofeedback training. ...
... Avšak, keď emočný stres negatívne ovplyvňuje učenie a výkon, prepojenie medzi nervovým systémom a mozgom je narušené, čo následne ovplyvní kognitívne procesy kľúčové pre myslenie, riešenie problémov, pamäť a pozornosť (Arguelles, McCraty, Rees, 2003). Fyziologická koherencia je výsledkom pozitívnych emočných stavov, kedy sú konzistentné signály odosielané do mozgu koordinujúc aktivitu nervového systému a vytvárajú vysoko kognitívne stavy (McCraty, 2003). Výskumné štúdie preukázali účinnosti BFB pri redukovaní stresu u študentov, zlepšili pozornosť, zvýšili pokojnosť a pozitívne emócie, zlepšili schopnosť učiť sa, a akademický výkon (Arguelle et al., 2003;Hunter-Kane, 2003). ...
... It is a recognized indicator of a person's physiological and behavioral regulatory capacities underlying physical and psychological resilience (Thayer and Lane, 2000;Andreassi, 2010;Holzman and Bridgett, 2017). Moreover, increased levels of HRV have been associated with beneficial effects for health (Gevirtz, 2013;McCraty and Shaffer, 2015;Lehrer et al., 2020) and cognitive performance (McCraty, 2003, Abbreviations: HRVB, heart rate variability biofeedback; ANS, autonomous nervous system; HRV, heart rate variability; CVC, cardiac vagal control; RSA, respiratory sinus arrhythmia; VR, virtual reality; SRE, self-reference effect; EM, episodic memory; vmPFC, ventromedial prefrontal cortex; dlPFC, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; BG, biofeedback group; CG, active control group; BMI, new body mass index; ECG, electrocardiogram; R/K/G, Remember/Know/Guess; NN, normal-tonormal: time interval between successive normal heartbeats; RMSSD, root mean square of successive heartbeat interval differences; SDNN, standard deviation of normal heartbeat intervals; pNN50, percentage of successive normal heartbeats that differ by more than 50 ms; lnLF, natural logarithm of absolute low frequency power of the heart rate signal; lnHF, natural logarithm of absolute high frequency power of the heart rate signal; normLF, relative power of the low frequency band; normHF, relative power of the high frequency band; LF/HF, absolute power ratio of the low frequency and high frequency band; P2T-RSA, natural logarithm of the RSA calculated by the peak-to-trough method; PB-RSA, natural logarithm of the RSA calculated by the Porges-Bohrer method; ANOVA, analysis of variance; EMM, estimated marginal mean; DV, dependent variable. 2016; Hansen et al., 2004;Forte et al., 2019). ...
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Heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback, an intervention based on the voluntary self-regulation of autonomic parameters, has been shown to affect prefrontal brain functioning and improve executive functions. The interest in using HRV biofeedback as cognitive training is typically ascribed to parasympathetic activation and optimized physiological functioning deriving from increased cardiac vagal control. However, the persistence of cognitive effects is poorly studied and their association with biofeedback-evoked autonomic changes has not yet been explored. In addition, no study has so far investigated the influence of HRV biofeedback in adults on long-term episodic memory, which is particularly concerned with self-referential encoding processing. Methods In the present study, a novel training system was developed integrating HRV and respiratory biofeedback into an immersive virtual reality environment to enhance training efficacy. Twenty-two young healthy adults were subjected to a blinded randomized placebo-controlled experiment, including six self-regulation training sessions, to evaluate the effect of biofeedback on autonomic and cognitive changes. Cardiac vagal control was assessed before, during, and 5 min after each training session. Executive functions, episodic memory, and the self-referential encoding effect were evaluated 1 week before and after the training program using a set of validated tasks. Results Linear mixed-effects models showed that HRV biofeedback greatly stimulated respiratory sinus arrhythmia during and after training. Moreover, it improved the attentional capabilities required for the identification and discrimination of stimuli ( η p 2 = 0.17), auditory short-term memory ( η p 2 = 0.23), and self-referential episodic memory recollection of positive stimuli ( η p 2 = 0.23). Episodic memory outcomes indicated that HRV biofeedback reinforced positive self-reference encoding processing. Cognitive changes were strongly dependent on the level of respiratory sinus arrhythmia evoked during self-regulation training. Conclusion The present study provides evidence that biofeedback moderates respiration-related cardiac vagal control, which in turn mediates improvements in several cognitive processes crucial for everyday functioning including episodic memory, that are maintained beyond the training period. The results highlight the interest in HRV biofeedback as an innovative research tool and medication-free therapeutic approach to affect autonomic and neurocognitive functioning. Finally, a neurocognitive model of biofeedback-supported autonomic self-regulation as a scaffolding for episodic memory is proposed.
... Some assigned the central role to the heart while other allocated this role to the brain. In some studies it is argued that many of the functionalities like sensation, emotion, intuition, thinking, information processing and coherence are related to the brain [1] while other studies argued that the important characteristic like thinking power, processing and many others capabilities are not restricted to brain [2,3]. In this paper we discussed the role of the heart beyond the conventional concept i.e pumping the blood to the different parts of the body. ...
حالة نفسية انصدمت بواقع مفاجئ في حياتها، وهو اكتشاف مرض مزمن لديها، بكت وأصابها أرق وقلة نوم من القلق والخوف نتيجة ذلك، كانت هذه الحالة قلقة من خبرة جديد؛ مما جعلني أتعامل معها بتوظيف خاصية الخبرة للقلب والدماغ، وبعدة فترة زمنية دامت سنة، بدأت تلك الحالة القلقة تتقبل الموقف المرضي الجديد وقل عندها ذلك الخوف والتوتر وأصبحت حالتها صحية أكثر مناسبة من تاريخ التعامل مع الحالة. إن من أحد أدوار الإرشاد هو تزويد الفرد بالإرشاد والتوجيه الأكاديمي والنفسي وما يتصل بهما من تقديم المشورة في مختلف الجوانب النفسية والمقررات الدراسية الصفية واللاصفية لإكساب الفرد المسترشد المعرفة والمهارة والجوانب الوجدانية الخاصة بحالته. وبما أن المرشد والمسترشد يسود بينهما في الجلسات الإرشادية والتوجيهية جو من المشاعر الوجدانية ومخاطبة العقل من خلال تبادل الأفكار وفق الموقف في العملية الإرشادية، فإن للقلب والدماغ دورا في سير العملية الإرشادية وحدوث التقدم في حالة المسترشد؛ وبالتالي فإن معرفة المرشد للخصائص المهمة للقلب والدماغ المرتبطة بالعملية الإرشادية يساعده على تحسين حالة المسترشد من خلال توظيف تلك الخصائص في ذاته وفي المسترشد أثناء جلساته الإرشادية وفق طبيعة احتياجاته.
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The chapter highlights two psychodynamic therapies, Cognitive Hypnotherapy and EMDR. Both therapies focus on implicit or unconscious processes for the rapid relief of cognitive anxiety. The objective is to give credence to the therapies both in the scientific and medical domains. The philosophy is concerned with changing negative cognitions and dysfunctional feelings through a process of desensitisation and reprocessing, utilising positive imagery. The chapter gives quantitative scientific evidence for the beneficial effects of both therapies (after only two sessions) as well as qualitative documentation through a case study.
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This research is a comparative study of the types of nafs and the types of personality described by Ghazali and Freud, respectively. Types of personality described by Ghazali are al-nafs al-ammara, al-nafs al-lawwama and al-nafs al-mutma'inna. The types of personality according to Freud are id, ego and super-ego. Other faculties that help in training or shaping the types of nafs are rooh (soul), qalb (heart), and aql (mind). They also play a vital role in the functioning of id, ego and super-ego. This article defines the above mentioned types of personality presented by both Ghazali and Freud. It also discusses their functions encompassing their differences and similarities and strives to find out if they complement each other. It was found that there is much similarity in both types of personality formulates. Id and nafs ammarah are the same, while nafs lawwama was found to be comprising both ego and super-ego. However, the concept of nafs mutma’innah is found only in Islamic theology. Thematic and comparative study methods of qualitative research were used in this research. This is a literature based study. Ghazali’s study is based on the Qur’an and Sunnah. Hence, Ihya’ ‘Uloom-id-Deen and The Ego and The ID remain the major sources of this study.
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Narrativas de mujeres
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It is well-established that cardiac afferent neurological input to the brain not only facilitates homeostatic regulation but also influences cognitive processing. We have previously shown that positive emotions are associated with a distinct mode of physiological functioning termed physiological coherence. This mode is characterized by a sine wave-like pattern in the heart rate variability waveform (heart rhythm coherence), entrainment of physiological oscillatory systems, and increased parasympathetic activity and vascular resonance.
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As pervasive and vital as they are in human experience, emotions have long remained an enigma to science. This monograph explores recent scientifi c advances that clarify central controversies in the study of emotion, including the relationship between intellect and emotion, and the historical debate on the source of emotional experience. Particular attention is given to the intriguing body of research illuminating the critical role of ascending input from the body to the brain in the generation and perception of emotions. This discussion culminates in the presentation of a new, systems-oriented model of emotion in which the brain functions as a complex pattern-matching system, continually processing input from both the external and internal environments. From this perspective it is shown that the heart is a key component of the emotional system, thus providing a physiological basis for the long-acknowledged link between the heart and our emotional life.
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This study examined the effects on healthy adults of a new emotional self-management program, consisting of two key techniques, “Cut-Thru” and the “Heart Lock-In.” These techniques are designed to eliminate negative thought loops and promote sustained positive emotional states. The hypotheses were that training and practice in these techniques would yield lowered levels of stress and negative emotion and cortisol, while resulting in increased positive emotion and DHEA levels over a one-month period. In addition, we hypothesized that increased coherence in heart rate variability patterns would be observed during the practice of the techniques. Forty-five healthy adults participated in the study, fifteen of whom acted as a comparison group for the psychological measures. Salivary DHEA/DHEAS and cortisol levels were measured, autonomic nervous system function was assessed by heart rate variability analysis, and emotions were measured using a psychological questionnaire. Individuals in the experimental group were assessed before and four weeks after receiving training in the self-management techniques. The experimental group experienced significant increases in the positive affect scales of Caring and Vigor and significant decreases in the negative affect scales of Guilt, Hostility, Burnout, Anxiety and Stress Effects, while no significant changes were seen in the comparison group. There was a mean 23 percent reduction in cortisol and a 100 percent increase in DHEA/DHEAS in the experimental group. DHEA was significantly and positively related to the affective state Warmheartedness, whereas cortisol was significantly and positively related to Stress Effects. Increased coherence in heart rate variability patterns was measured in 80 percent of the experimental group during the use of the techniques. The results suggest that techniques designed to eliminate negative thought loops can have important positive effects on stress, emotions and key physiological systems. The implications are that relatively inexpensive interventions may dramatically and positively impact individuals’ health and well-being. Thus, individuals may have greater control over their minds, bodies and health than previously suspected.
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In the search for principles of pattern generation in complex biological systems, an operational approach is presented that embraces both theory and experiment. The central mathematical concepts of self-organization in nonequilibrium systems (including order parameter dynamics, stability, fluctuations, and time scales) are used to show how a large number of empirically observed features of temporal patterns can be mapped onto simple low-dimensional (stochastic, nonlinear) dynamical laws that are derivable from lower levels of description. The theoretical framework provides a language and a strategy, accompanied by new observables, that may afford an understanding of dynamic patterns at several scales of analysis (including behavioral patterns, neural networks, and individual neurons) and the linkage among them.
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In summary, this work extends previous findings by demonstrating that anger produces a sympathetically dominated power spectrum, whereas appreciation produces a power spectral shift toward MF and HF activity. Results suggest that positive emotions lead to alterations in HRV, which may be beneficial in the treatment of hypertension and in reducing the likelihood of sudden death in patients with congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease.
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Although cardiac sympathovagal regulation has been studied during stress using power spectral density analysis of heart rate variability, little is known about its regulation during emotional states. Using heart rate variability measurements, we studied autonomic balance in 20 subjects trained in a mental and emotional self-management technique called Freeze-Frame. The study was conducted in two environments: under controlled laboratory conditions, and under real-life stressful conditions in the workplace. Power spectral density plots of R-R intervals obtained from electrocardiogram recordings were divided into three regions: low frequency (predominantly sympathetic activity), midfrequency, and high frequency (parasympathetic activity). Measurements were taken for a 5-minute baseline period, followed by a 5-minute period of positive emotional expression. Three unique conditions of autonomic nervous system order can be clearly discriminated in the data: (1) normal heart function mode, (2) entrainment mode, and (3) internal coherence mode. The internal coherence mode is new to the electrophysiology literature. We provide supporting data for modes 2 and 3 and show that a group of 20 subjects trained in this technique can enter and maintain these states at will. We found that, when one is in the entrainment mode, other physiological systems lock to the entrainment frequency, which is approximately 0.1 Hz. The results suggest that emotional experiences play a role in determining sympathovagal balance independent of heart rate and respiration and further suggest that positive emotions lead to alterations in heart rate variability that may be beneficial in the treatment of hypertension and reduce the likelihood of sudden death in patients with congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease.
Background: Thirty-eight human immunodeficiency virus-seropositive men and women, most with AIDS, enrolled in a psychological intervention, called the HeartMath® program. It is a unique intervention for stress-reduction and mental and emotional self-management that focuses on enhancing positive emotional states, as well as minimizing negative states. Objective: This pilot study was conducted to determine the feasibility of this program in managing the psychological status and improving the quality of life of individuals with human immunodeficiency virus. The study was not intended to be a large, double-blind, controlled clinical study. Methods: Participants attended three 2-day training sessions and were given home study assignments of approximately one hour per day for the six-month study period. They were assessed on site prior to and at the completion of the six-month period using (i) an Irritability Scale, (ii) a Symptom Questionnaire developed to assess the number and severity of symptoms specifically associated with acquired immune deficiency syndrome, (iii) the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, (iv) the General Well-Being Scale, and (v) the Essi Systems StressMap® Research Tool. Results: The data indicate that the program is highly effective in reducing symptomatology in individuals with human immunodeficiency virus by decreasing state and trait anxiety, improving physical vitality, reducing stress, and improving overall psychological well-being. Some individuals also reported improvements in physical symptomatology. Conclusions: The results indicate that the HeartMath program is a non-pharmaceutical intervention that can positively affect the psychological well-being of individuals with acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
We recorded respiratory activity and electrocardiogram (ECG) together with single cell activity from the amygdala and hippocampus of epileptic patients who later received anterotemporal lobectomy. Cross‐correlation histograms were used to test for neuronal discharge timing relationships with inspiration or ECG. Linear regression was used to test for correlations of inspiratory time, respiratory period, and heart rate (HR) with tonic unit rate for each breath. Of 129 cells from 16 patients who later had resection, 89 were contralateral and 40 were ipsilateral to the resected lobe. Of the contralateral cells, 19% had a timing relationship with the cardiac cycle and only 1% had such a relationship with the respiratory cycle. Tonic correlations with HR were noted in 22% and with respiratory period and inspiratory time in 11 and 6%. Neither these percentages nor mean discharge rate differed between structures, although variance in rate was much higher on the resected side. Amygdala cells on the resected side showed more correlations with the cardiac cycle (55 vs. 20%), respiratory period (46 vs. 3%), and inspiratory time (27 vs. 7%) and were more likely to show several types of correlation. The results suggest a selective loss of ipsilateral amygdala cells and/or afferents, favoring relationships with cardiac‐ and respiratory‐related systems and a possible synaptic reorganization of remaining cardiorespiratory afferents. RÉSUMÉ Les auteurs ont enregistré l'activité respiratoire et l'électrocardiogramme en corrélation avec les décharges neuronales unitaires de l'amygdale et de l'hippocampe de patients épileptiques qui ont bénéficié secondairement d'une lobectomie temporale antérieure. Les histogrammes de corrélations croisées ont été utilisés pour évaluer les relations temporelles entre la décharge neuronale et l'inspiration ou l'électrocardiogramme. Le test de régression linéaire a été utilisé pour les corrélations entre temps d'inspiration, période expiratoire et rythme cardiaque et le taux de décharge tonique unitaire pour chaque mouvement respiratoire. Parmi 129 cellules, enregistrées chez 16 patients qui ont bénéficié secondairement d'une résection temporale, 89 étaient contralatérals et 40 étaient ipsilatérales au lobe réséqué. Parmi les cellules controlatérales, 19% présentaient une relation temporelle avec le cycle cardiaque, seulement 1% avec le cycle respiratoire. Des corrélations toniques avec le rythme cardiaque ont été trouvées chez 22%, avec la période respiratoire et le temps d'inspiration chez 11% et 6%. Aucun de ces pourcentages, ni d'ailleurs le taux de décharges moyen, ne présentait de différences selon les structures, bien que la variance du taux ait été beaucoup plus élevée du côté réséqué. Les cellules de l'amygdala du côté réséqué ont été davantage corrélées au cycle cardiaque (55% contre 20%), à la période respiratoire (46% contre 3%), et au temps d'inspiration (27% contre 7%), et présentaient plus probablement plusieurs types de corrélations. Ces résultats suggèrent qu'il existe une perte sélective des cellules amygdaliennes ipsilatérales et/ou de leurs afférents, phénomènes qui favorisent les relations avec les systèmes liés à la fréquence cardiaque et respiratoire; ces résultats suggèrent également qu'il existe une possibilité de réorganisation synaptique des afférents cardiorespiratoires résiduels. RESUMEN En enfermos que posteriormente fueron sometidos a una lobectomía temporal anterior hemos registrado la actividad respiratoria y el ECG simultaneamente con las descargas de la amígdala y del hipocampo. Se han utilizado histogramas interrelacionados para determinar la relación temporal de las descargas neuronales con la inspiración o el ECG. Se utilizó un test de regresión lineal para calcular las correlaciones del tiempo de inspiración, del periodo respiratorio y del rítmo cardiaco o con la frecuencia de unidades tónicas durante cada respiración. De las 129 células de 16 pacientes que fueron resecadas con posterioridad, 89 eran contralaterales y 40 ipsilaterales al lóbulo extirpado. De las células contralaterales, 19% tenían una relación temporal con el rítmo cardiaco y solamente 1% con el ciclo respiratorio. Se observaron correlaciones tónicas con el ritmo cardiaco en 22% y con el periodo respiratorio y el tiempo de inspiración en el 11% y en el 6% respectivamente. Ninguno de estos porcentajes y tampoco el ritmo medio de descargas, mostraron diferencias entre las estructuras a pesar de que la proyección de varianza fue mucho más elevada en el lado resecado. Las células de la amigdala del lado resecado mostraron más correlaciones con el ciclo cardiaco (55% vs. 20%), el periodo respiratorio (46% vs. 3%), el tiempo de inspiración (27% vs. 7%) y tenían tendencia a mostrar más tipos de correlación. Estos resultados sugieren una pérdida selectiva de las células de la amigdala ipsilateral y/o sus aferencias que favorecen la relación con los temas cardiacos respiratorios y también porque indican una posible reorganización sináptica de las aferencias cardiorespiratorias restantes. ZUSAMMENFASSUNG Die respiratorische Aktivität sowie das Elektrokardiogramm wurde zusammen mit neuronalen Entladungen vom Amygdalon und Hippokampus bei epileptischen Patienten abgeleitet, bei denen später eine vordere temporale Lobektomie vorgenommen wurde. Mit Hilfe von Cross‐Korrelationshistogrammen wurde der zeitliche Zusammenhang zwischen neuronalen Entladungen und Inspiration oder Elektrokardiogramm untersucht. Mit linearen Regressionen wurden die Korrelationen von Inspirationszeit, Respirationsperiode und Herzfrequenz zu tonischer Entladungsrate bei jedem Atemzug untersucht. Von insgesamt 129 abgeleiteten Zellen von insgesamt 16 Patienten, bei denen später eine Resektion vorgenommen wurde, lagen 89 kontralateral und 40 ipsilateral im resezierten Lappen. Von den Neuronen der kontralateralen Seite zeigten 19% eine zeitliche Beziehung mit dem kardialen Zyklus, und nur 1% mit dem Respirationszyklus. Eine Korrelation der tonischen Aktivität zur Herzfrequenz war bei 22% festzustellen und bei 11 bzw. 6% mit der Respirationsperiode bzw. Inspirationszeit. Zwischen den einzelnen Strukturen gab es keine Unterschiede, weder bezüglich dieser Prozentzahl, noch der mittleren Entladungsrate, obwohl die Varianz der Entladungsrate auf der resezierten Seite deutlich höher lag. Amygdalazellen der resezierten Seite zeigten eine höhere Korrelation zum kardialen Zyklus (55% gegenüber 20%), zur Respirationsperiode (46% gegenüber 3%) und zur Inspirationszeit (27% gegenüber 7%) und korrelierten mit größerer Wahrscheinlichkeit auf unterschiedliche Art und Weise. Diese Ergebnisse legen den selektiven Verlust von ipsilateralen Amygdala‐Zellen und/oder von Afferenzen nahe, die eine Beziehung zwischen kardialen und respirationsbezogenen Systemen begünstigen, sowie eine mögliche synaptische Reorganisation der verbleibenden kardio‐ respiratorischen Afferenzen.
Pulsatile secretion of hormones are observed in many endocrine systems. Here we discuss the significance of pulsatile patterns of hormone secretion for the regulation of endocrine target tissues in physiology and pathophysiology. New approaches to analyze endocrine rhythms are introduced that may enable to better define the temporal patterns of secretion relevant for the regulation of distinct processes in complex in vivo systems. This may lead to improved diagnostic and therapeutic strategies of endocrine diseases.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of stress management training on quality of life, functional capacity, and heart rate variability in elderly patients with New York Heart Association class I-III congestive heart failure (CHF). While substantial research exists on stress management training for patients with coronary heart disease, there are few data on the value of psychosocial training on patients with CHF. Thirty-three multiethnic patients (mean age, 66+/-9 years) were assigned through incomplete randomization to one of two treatment groups or a wait-listed control group. The 14 participants who completed the treatment attended eight training sessions during a 10-week period. The training consisted of 75-minute sessions adapted from the Freeze-Frame stress management program developed by the Institute of HeartMath. Subjects were assessed at baseline and again at the completion of the training. Depression, stress management, optimism, anxiety, emotional distress, and functional capacity were evaluated, as well as heart rate variability. Significant improvements (p<0.05) were noted in perceived stress, emotional distress, 6-minute walk, and depression, and positive trends were noted in each of the other psychosocial measures. The 24-hour heart rate variability showed no significant changes in autonomic tone. The authors noted that CHF patients were willing study participants and their emotional coping and functional capacity were enhanced. This program offers a simple and cost-effective way to augment medical management of CHF. Given the incompleteness of CHF medical management and the exploding interest in complementary medical intervention, it seems imperative that further work in psychosocial treatment be undertaken.