The Brain-Heart Connection: The brains behind your heart.

Have you ever wondered what controls your digestion or the number of times your heart beats? Think of your brain like a central computer that controls all your body’s functions, and your nervous system like a network that relays messages from your brain to your body parts. It may seem obvious that the brain is always working hard to control what you think and feel, how you learn and remember, even the way you move and talk. It also controls things we are less aware of, such as the beating of your heart, the digestion of your food and even the amount of stress you feel in a situation.

The involuntary nervous system, also known as the autonomic nervous system, regulates the processes in the body that we cannot consciously influence. It is constantly active, regulating activities such as breathing, heart beat and metabolic processes. It does this by receiving signals from the brain and passing them on to the body.

It can also send signals in the other direction – from the body to the brain – providing your brain with information about how full your bladder is or how quickly your heart is beating, for example. The involuntary nervous system can react quickly to changes, altering processes in the body to adapt. For example, if your body gets too hot, your involuntary nervous system increases the blood circulation to your skin and makes you sweat more to cool your body down.  So, while you may not always realize it, this complex interaction is always hard at work behind the scenes controlling our daily activities.