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Heart & Brain Dialogue and its Role in Coping in post-Pandemic World

  • International Institute of Inspiration Economy

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The development of neuroscience has shown that the heart works on encoding and processing sophisticated information that enables humans to learn, remember, and create decisions independent from the brain. This paper investigates the importance of the heart-brain dialogue in building coping and hardiness with the upcoming life challenges. The author sheds light on the role of this dialogue in empathetic thinking and in solving complex problems. A framework is proposed that sets out a new line of thinking on how to optimize the heart-brain connections to the benefits of preparing the world for a new normal set of rules and post-pandemic spillovers. A recommendation is given for using this built-in human capacity that could help remove or at least alleviate the world from the vicious cycles of successive crises risks.
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International Journal of Management (IJM)
Volume 13, Issue 8, August 2022, pp. 21-28, Article ID: IJM_13_08_003
Available online at
ISSN Print: 0976-6502 and ISSN Online: 0976-6510
© IAEME Publication Scopus Indexed
Mohamed Buheji
International Inspiration Economy Project- Bahrain
The development of neuroscience has shown that the heart works on encoding and
processing sophisticated information that enables humans to learn, remember, and
create decisions independent from the brain. This paper investigates the importance of
the heart-brain dialogue in building coping and hardiness with the upcoming life
challenges. The author sheds light on the role of this dialogue in empathetic thinking
and in solving complex problems.
A framework is proposed that sets out a new line of thinking on how to optimize the
heart-brain connections to the benefits of preparing the world for new normal set of
rules and post-pandemic spillovers. A recommendations is given for using this built-in
human capacity that could help remove or at least alleviate the world from the vicious
cycles of successive crises risks.
Keywords: Heart-Brain Dialogue, Coping, Hardiness, Tolerance, Post-Pandemic
Cite this Article: Mohamed Buheji, Heart & Brain Dialogue and Its Role in Coping in
Post-Pandemic World, International Journal of Management (IJM), 13(8), 2022, pp. 21-
This paper investigates how the heart and brain metaphors have a role to play in helping the
world prepare and cope with post-pandemic spillovers. The author explores the physiology of
the heart-brain dialogue and its relation to our capacity enhancement, ‘attention span’, and even
curiosity and hardiness. The paper studies whether our feelings become more mature as we
realise the heart-brain neurological and biochemical dialogue. The relation of this mechanism
with coping, overcoming causalities for depression, multiplicity, self-understanding, and after-
meaning are checked. Buheji (2019).
The literature reviews the conventional knowledge that is created by memory transition
heart-brain relation. The metaphors between the heart and the brain are studied further to see
how this physiological setup could help in developing new coping mechanisms, or in creating
more motivational reasoning.
Heart & Brain Dialogue and Its Role in Coping in Post-Pandemic World 22
2.1. Heart and Brain Metaphors in Traditional Philosophies
Most sensational feelings are expressed by the relation of Heart-Brain. Sometimes we say that
this action affects our heart and brain. Overall, in most of the traditional philosophies, the heart
is the source of emotions and shapes our personality.
Pritzker (2007) explored the heart and brain metaphors used in the meaning-making efforts
in Chinese philosophy, with a specific focus on relation to depression. Many ancient
philosophies of metaphors are found to be like the Chinese in relating the connection between
thinking and feeling to the connections between the heart and the brain, Pritzker (2007). Such
philosophies view the heart as the seat of thought and emotion, while the brain is seen as
secondary when it comes to cognitive control and the main function happens in the heart. This
cultural understanding of the relation of the H&B can help to build suitable dialogue models
through multiple channels. Ogawa and De Bold (2014)
Many expressions and metaphors about the heart-brain relation reflect centuries of
folk wisdom. These wisdoms emphasise the neuro-cardiology recent discoveries about the heart
being the centre of thoughts, feelings, and personality.
The Holy Quran had clearly seen that the heart played a role in our responsibility and
accountability when it mentioned in the verse of Isra (verse 36):
    
 
 
which is narrated as “do not say (or follow) what you do not know, as the hearing, the
sight and the heart are responsible for your deeds”. As if it clearly describes that
whatever we hear and see is going to affect our heart. Alebrahim (2021)
2.2. Importance of Hardiness in Coping in Challenging Times and Role of Heart-
Brain Dialogue
Buheji and Jahrami (2020) mentioned the importance of both hardinesses in coping during
challenging times. However, this hardiness happens in certain people, while fail in others due
to failure of the heart-brain connections to raise specific capacities to withstand expected
difficulties during disasters and crises, Verny (2022). The flow of the dialogue of the heart-
brain help to sustain social interaction and create the balanced psychological performance
despite stress exposures. This connection of the most important organs in our body helps to
build a character that would struggle to explore, discover, or create opportunities, and which
would help to overcome adversity, build more resilience and enjoy patience and appreciation.
Ogawa and De Bold (2014)
To enhance the coping capacity to manage any negative emotions that leads to anxiety and
depression, we need to enhance the hardiness of the heart and brain psychology. This would
make people less vulnerable to challenges. Practices, such as proper sleeping, are found to
impact both the heart and the brain dialogue quality and mitigate any type of risks. Buheji and
Jahrami (2020)
The psychological hardness provides the individual with strength and ability to accept the
events that the future holds and provides us with the ability to take full advantage of psychiatric,
intellectual, and physical ability to enable reaching the appropriate confrontation with reality.
2.3. The Necessity of Coping in the Post-Pandemic World
Atkinson and Page (2022) discussed the necessity of coping in a post-pandemic world
where long-standing challenges like human-made conflicts, ageing populations, fragile planet
and growing inequalities are just the tip of the iceberg.
Mohamed Buheji 23
A recent Ipsos poll (2022) on the fitness of the mental health collected a sample of 1,014
representing the different generations of the USA population, and found that two in five
Americans are flourishing while one in five Americans are languishing, as defined by Dr. Keyes
(2006). Millennials are the group most likely to be languishing, while Baby Boomers are
flourishing. Many Americans worry about the direction society is moving. Only about half of
Americans say that the world is becoming a better place, while three in four Americans believe
that the pandemic has impacted not only their physical health, but also their financial situation
and job prospects. Those who are languishing are significantly more likely to have been
impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in at least one aspect of their life.
The Ipsos (2022) study shows that the number of people who do not see they belong to a
community, and the way our society works does not makes sense to them, are increasing and
reached up to 22% of the sampled population.
With the rise of inflation, conflicts, logistics instability, environmental disasters and socio-
political tensions, hardiness and psychological coping are becoming a must for surviving
uncertainty and inequality. This is specially as we live with certain new normal behaviours that
are turning to be permanent. Buheji and Jahrami (2020)
Figure (1), which was published by the Atikson and Page (2022) as part of the World
Economic Forum (WEF) for the next Davos conference, shows how the different generations
are perceiving the world in the future and whether they will have a better or worse life than
their parents. Both the majority of the Millenials and the Z Generations see that the world will
not be better for them, in comparison to their previous generation.
Source: King’s College London, Ipsos (2022), after WEF (2022)
2.4. Attention Span and the Role of Heart-Brain Dialogue
One of the characteristics of hardiness is the capacity to manage challenges with high tolerance
and focus, Buheji and Jahrami (2020). The GWU (2014) shows this human capacity of ability
to focus and increase the ‘attention span’ are related to the heart rate. The study shows that as
we intend to focus on a new task, we become more alert, and thus our heart rate increases. The
heart fires the neurons, which increases the attention, besides some anxiety while some neurons
go to control the heart rate to discover the "why," "how," and "where to next". This is, again,
very important for managing the rising uncertainties of the post-pandemic world.
In times of instability where urgency gets confused with what is important, the capacity to
make decisions depends on the hardiness levels and maintaining one's psychological well-
being. Buheji and Jahrami (2020) even see that engaging more hardy people, who have
consistency in using both their brain-heart communication channels, can help to smoothen the
process of decision-making and enhance the possibility for risk mitigation choices, or
exploitation of opportunities.
Heart & Brain Dialogue and Its Role in Coping in Post-Pandemic World 24
2.5. Physiology of the Heart-Brain Dialogue
The development of the science of neuro-cardiology has confirmed that the heart works on
encodings and processing sophisticated information that enables it to learn, remember, and
create functional decisions independent from the brain. The heart signals to the brain affects
autonomic regulatory centres, besides cognition and mood regulation. Thus, the heart-brain
dialogue uses both the sympathetic and the parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous
system. The multi-synaptic pathways help the myocardial cells and the peripheral ganglionic
neurons to move towards the central preganglionic and premotor neurons. If the heart-brain
dialogue pathways don’t work effectively, people will suffer from either physical or mental
health issues, which can affect their attention spans. Buheji (2021a); Armour (2008).
Studies show that the heart contains an intrinsic nervous system with built-in short and long-
term memory functions. The intrinsic nervous system of the heart consists of approximately
40,000 neurons called ‘sensory neurites’, which relay information to the brain and ensure
memory transfer.
Neuro-cardiology is truly surprising in the discovery that the heart functions as an
endocrine organ. In other words, like the thyroid gland or the adrenal gland, it produces several
hormones, including the cardiac natriuretic peptide. This hormone exerts its effect on the blood
vessels, the kidneys, the adrenal glands, and on a large number of regulatory regions in the
brain. Cantin and Genest (1986)
It was also found that the heart contains cells known as "intrinsic cardiac adrenergic" cells,
which release noradrenaline, dopamine and oxytocin. The release of such energy or
bonding hormone from the heart shows that the heart is no less than the brain in managing our
mindsets and life journey.
The heart and brain are in a constant two-way dialogue. Through these dialogue pathways,
the brain is always aware of any changes in the heart (heart rate, rhythm, expansion/contraction
and hormones). Upon receiving signals, the brain responds back to the heart, and the heart
responds again, and the cycle continues.
2.6. Maturity of Feelings as a Representative of Significance of the Heart-Brain
The heart-brain relations are found to influence our personality traits. Most materialistic-driven
people think only with their brains. At the same time, most emotional people think with their
hearts. But wise people found to use both the heart and the brain in creating decisions.
Feelings are an outcome of a two-way relationship between the heart as well as the brain.
Our emotions change the signals, the brain sends to the heart, and the heart responds to the brain
in complex ways. Therefore, with the maturity of feelings, both the brain and the heart influence
each other’s function to a level that harmonizes or synchronise together. The harmony can be
seen in one person, or between two persons or more. Buheji (2018)
2.7. Neurological and Biochemical in the Brain-Heart Dialogue
Recent research from HeartMath (2022) has shown that the heart dialogue with the brain in
different ways through neurological and biochemical means. The transmission of nerve
impulses ensures the neurological communication between the heart and brain. The
biochemical module dialogue with the neurons in the heart and send a massive number of
signals to the brain.
Mohamed Buheji 25
The heart secretes nor-epinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine, and oxytocin in the
bloodstream, which are hormones and neurotransmitters that are sent to the emotional centres
in the brain. The brain interprets these secreted hormones and creates positive feelings like joy,
and heart rhythms. This change of information from the heart to the brain builds a dialogue that
heightens self-confidence and other positive responses. The heart and brain's constant dialogue
lead to a chain of reactions in the body that impact the hormone levels and the immune system.
2.8. Heart-Brain Connections and their impact on the After-meaning
Mitchell (2005) sees that the heart-brain process is seen as a complex and dynamic process at
the intersection of personality, personal history, and the appropriation of various cultural
models. Expression of experience, an illness or health, involves an after-meaning effort in
which individuals draw upon cultural and personal understandings to make sense of their
experience. This is what Dr Buheji (2016, 2017, 2018) called visualisation.
The after-meaning of the post-pandemic world is highly influenced by our heart-brain
dialogue, which affects our cultural understandings, and comes with often variable
interpretations in a given cultural setting, Garro (2005). Sometimes referred to as cultural
models, these understandings offer frameworks with which to conceptualize the physical,
emotional, and cognitiveself.
The depth of the connection between heart-brain and culture is the notion that culture has a
profound effect on the way in which individuals both perceive and express their fundamental
experience, thinking and feelings, Pritzker (2007). This relation extends its impact to affect our
interpretation and expression of problems and visualising solutions for the fast-changing
realities around us today and in the coming post-pandemic world. Ogawa and De Bold (2014)
Verny (2022)found that the heart works with sophisticated information encoding that
affects our collective unconscious decisions. The variations that result from diverse personal
interpretations of cultural models might be related to the depth of the connections between the
heart and the brain, Ogawa and De Bold (2014). Several of these scholars suggest that as
individuals are exposed to different ways of under-standing the self, they develop a set of
multiple and often contradictory models, each with differing metaphorical entailments. Garro
Based on the literature review and the coming world problems, a specific knowledge gap
represented in coping and hardiness is defined. Both a theoretical and conceptual framework
for optimising the heart-brain connection and dialogue is proposed to address this gap. The
framework tries to optimise the connection between the heart and the brain in a way that helps
address the rising necessities for psychological coping, tolerance and hardiness.
4.1. Optimising our Ecosystem as per Inspiration Economy Theory
The heart-brain dialogue model works like an ecosystem in our body. The moment one of its
elements changes, everything else is affected. Buheji (2021a) believes that inspiration opens
minds, hearts, souls, and the mindset. The integration of these systems helps to face cope and
even face complex problems such as the issues of poverty, youth migration, community tension,
etc. Specifically, the inspiration economy labs and concept use the dialogue and the
synchronisation between the heart-brain to help the heart to interact with the problem under
study. These interactions send specific signals to the brain. Buheji (2021b), Buheji (2016).
Heart & Brain Dialogue and Its Role in Coping in Post-Pandemic World 26
The Medulla in the brain regulate our basic reactions to the problem and ensure its role in
function calibration, while the Amygdala monitors the heart rhythm patterns and senses our
feelings. Once we start opportunities exploration based on the observations collected, the
Prefrontal Cortex takes over. Then, the Amygdala in the Hypothalamus works to maintain the
hormone homeostasis while the Thalamus tries to synchronise the cortical activities.
As we manage to inspire others means, we open their minds, hearts, spirit and the rest of
their body’s senses to their ability to achieve what was thought to be impossible. We can create,
or use the Aha moment, or the currency of inspiration to move the spirit, the heart and the
mindset to a new level of achievement. This helps us to control the attitudes and the behaviours,
the blind spots, the assumptions, and the complacency more in moving towards a common goal.
Buheji (2016)
Studies so far show that the more the mechanism brings in the mind, the heart and the spirit
consistently together, the more we would see practices of thinking of the alternatives, which is
inspiration economy calls for. This would improve how we perceive things and how we could
react with curiosity to discover even more new ones. However, this curiosity mechanism
depends on the ‘quality of perceptions’ and the ‘concrete experience’ that leads to feelings.
Buheji (2021a), Buheji (2019), Buheji (2016).
Figure (2) Illustrates the Mechanism of Dialogue between the Heart and the Brain that Occurs in Our
Body during Empathetic Problem-solving Attempts.
Source: Buheji, M (2021a) Physiology of Inspiring Life, Realising How Inspiration Works in
Our Bodies. Westwood Books Publishing, USA
4.2. The Heart-Brain Dialogue and Motivational Reasoning
Through neuroscience, we can raise our ability to engineer the problem through motivational
reasoning. The empathetic feelings help us to better absorb more new beliefs, intentions, and
motivations. The recent development of Social Neuroscience (SN) is expected to help complex
socio-economic problem-solving. SN help to develop the problem opportunities further since it
differentiates between both ‘cognitive empathy’ and ‘affective empathy’.
Mohamed Buheji 27
Once the heart-brain dialogue is established, we can use the outcome represented in higher
‘cognitive empathy’ in solving complex problems by raising the capacity of the people's
motivational reasoning, which leads to a more effective outcome. In comparison, ‘affective
empathy’ is used to ensure that the feelings of others are shared during the problem-solving
Since inspiration insights mostly develop from essential social and human capital needs, its
delivery could be from our hearts, and it could be visualised by our minds. If used as a currency,
inspiration could make a difference to our energy and thus our capacity, and thus what we focus
on matters as this changes us from being individuals strained by scarcity thinking to those
driven by abundance thinking. Pritzker (2007)
Buheji (2016) shown the optimal conditions when an idea is actionable, and we have the
capacity to carry it out. The process of being "inspired by" gives way to the process of being
"inspired to". This self-motivation brings in a specific form of transmission called actualisation.
This self-actualisation creates a type of internal motivational reasoning that create reflections
and leads to more abundant thinking, which establishes the momentary ‘Aha’ moment. With
observations, we build holistic feelings that move, or motivate the powers of the mind, spirit,
and heart and deal with the physical status of the problem investigated.
The status of inspiration in itself builds heartfelt affection that enhances our passion and
self-determination, leaving a place that can turn pains of the challenges of the journey to be
replaced with persistence and perseverance. Therefore, Kubzansky and Thurston (2007) found
that positive practices, as being optimistic, cut the risk of coronary heart disease by half.
The importance of this research is that it helps us to work on proactive solutions in relation to
enhancing human hardiness, and coping thus mitigate the risks to mental wellness. The
implication of this paper is that it helps to appreciate more the importance of the heart-brain
dialogue, which alternatively reduces many sources related to the human factor.
This work simply emphasis the role of positive mental health which creates protective effect
of emotional vitality and lead to a mindset that advocate wholesome behaviors. The heart-brain
dialogue framework focus on how to use this built-in human capacity to manage the coming
serious hurdles in different areas of life.
The paper contributes to enhancing the human capacity to manage the different possibilities
of a post-pandemic world. As the pandemic has moved and changed, people around the world
need to cope with the constantly shifting risks and build hardiness with those compulsory new
normal circumstances that they are not comfortable with.
[1] Alebrahim, K (2021) The thinking heart is the source of wisdom and the master of the brain. In
Decision Making, The Heart Is the Master, The Brain Is The Servant.
Accessed on: 1/6/2022
[2] Armour, J. (2008) Potential clinical relevance of the ‘little brain’ on the mammalian heart.
Experimental physiology, 93(2), 165-176.
[3] Atkinson, S and Page, B (2022) 10 COVID-19 lessons that will change the post-pandemic
future. Davos 2022 Agenda, World Economic Forum. ,
Accessed on: 1/7/2022
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[4] BHF (2021) Is the heart connected to the brain? HEART MATTERS
connected-to-the-brain, Accessed on: 1/6/2022
[5] Buheji, M (2021a) Physiology of Inspiring Life, Realising How Inspiration Works in Our
Bodies. Westwood Books Publishing, USA
[6] Buheji, M (2021b) The Theory of Inspiration Economy- An Introduction. International Journal
of Entrepreneurship. Volume 25, Special Issue 1.
[7] Buheji, M (2019) Designing a Curious Life, AuthorHouse, UK.
[8] Buheji, M. (2018) Re-Inventing Our Lives, A Handbook for Socio-Economic “Problem-
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[9] Buheji, M (2016) Handbook of Inspiration Economy. Bookboon, London, UK.
[10] Buheji, M and Jahrami, H (2020) Analysing Hardiness Resilience in Covid-19 Pandemic - Using
Factor Analysis, International Journal of Management, Volume 11, Issue 10, Oct 2020, pp. 802-
[11] Cantin M. and Genest J. (1986) The heart as an endocrine gland, Clinical and Investigative
Medicine; 9(4): 319-327.
[12] GWU (2014) Mechanisms that link brain alertness, increased heart rate discovered.
ScienceDaily. George Washington University, ScienceDaily, 6 May.
[13] Garro, L. (2005). Effort after meaning in everyday life. In C. Casey and R. B. Edgerton (Eds.),
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[14] HeartMath (2022) Science of the Heart, Exploring the Role of the Heart in Human Performance,
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[18] Kubzansky, D and Thurston, C (2007) Emotional vitality and incident coronary heart disease:
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[19] Ogawa, T and De Bold, A. (2014) The heart as an endocrine organ. Endocrine connections, 3(2),
[20] Pritzker, S (2007) Thinking hearts, feeling brains: Metaphor, culture, and the self in Chinese
narratives of depression, Open Access Publications from the University of California.
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
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The concept of the heart as an endocrine organ arises from the observation that the atrial cardiomyocytes in the mammalian heart display a phenotype that is partly that of endocrine cells. Investigations carried out between 1971 and 1983 characterized, by virtue of its natriuretic properties, a polypeptide referred to atrial natriuretic factor (ANF). Another polypeptide isolated from brain in 1988, brain natriuretic peptide (BNP), was subsequently characterized as a second hormone produced by the mammalian heart atria. These peptides were associated with the maintenance of extracellular fluid volume and blood pressure. Later work demonstrated a plethora of other properties for ANF and BNP, now designated cardiac natriuretic peptides (cNPs). In addition to the cNPs, other polypeptide hormones are expressed in the heart that likely act upon the myocardium in a paracrine or autocrine fashion. These include the C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), adrenomedullin (AM), proadrenomedullin N-terminal peptide (PAMP) and endothelin-1 (ET-1). Gene expression and secretion of ANF and BNP are increased in various cardiovascular pathologies and their levels in blood are used in the diagnostic and prognosis of cardiovascular disease. In addition, therapeutic uses for these peptides or related substances have been found. In all, the discovery of the endocrine heart provided a shift from the classical functional paradigm of the heart that regarded this organ solely as a blood pump to one that regards this organ as self-regulating its workload humorally and that also influences the function of several other organs that control cardiovascular function.
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This paper explores the heart and brain metaphors used in the meaning-making efforts of Chinese individuals diagnosed with depression. Past studies assert that the origin of Chinese language metaphors for thinking and feeling can be found in traditional Chinese medico-philosophical theory, where the heart is viewed as the seat of thought and emotion, and the brain, which constitutes the cognitive center in western theories of the self, is secondary. While most participants employed heart metaphors to express thinking and feeling, many of the participants also employed brain metaphors. Instead of suggesting that this multiplicity implies westernization, this paper argues that cultural understandings of the self can be multiple. To appreciate this, it is necessary to look at spontaneously generated speech in a narrative context. This paper thus analyzes three participant narratives, a process that carries several implications for studies approaching the relationship between metaphor, culture, and the self.
A process oriented perspective of cognition need not limit the cultural contribution to content, or the process merely to biochemical cognitive processes. Rather, it can highlight cultural-historical and social processes as well as the range of artifacts and culturally available resources for "effort after meaning" while advancing an understanding of variation and change in cultural settings. The constructive and situated nature of knowing is explored through the distributed nature of cognition, transformative learning processes, schemas, and narrative as a mode of thinking.
Two independent series of biomedical investigations have led to the discovery that the atria are a peptide-secreting endocrine gland. The first is mainly morphological and starts with the finding that mammalian atrial but not ventricular cardiocytes contain "dense bodies". These "dense bodies" later called "specific granules" were found to be different from lysosomes, to be made up of proteins and to incorporate both 3H-leucine and 3-H-fucose in a pattern typical of peptide-secreting endocrine cells. The finding that rat atrial granulation varied with the sodium and water balance led to the crucial observation that atrial extracts have natriuretic and diuretic effects. In less than 4 years, this new natriuretic hormone has been purified, sequenced and synthetized, and its cDNA and gene have been cloned. The ANF gene has been assigned to the distal short arm of chromosome 1 in band 1P36 while the mouse gene is localized in chromosome 4. The native and synthetic hormones exert identical wide ranging effects (possibly through particulate guanylate cyclase stimulation and adenylate cyclase inhibition) on the kidney, blood vessels, adrenal cortex and pituitary. Physiopathologic implications of the hormone in experimental hypertension, congestive heart failure and expansion of blood volume are already beginning to emerge. On the other hand, the search for natriuretic hormones or factors by studies of negative pressure breathing, atrial distention experiments, head-out water immersion, expansion of blood volume, Na+/K-ATPase inhibition and parabiosis experiments in Dahl rats has provided a general framework within which to interpret this new cardiac function.