Does heartbeat depend on the brain?
The heart pumps blood to all parts of the body including the brain through arteries. The brain sends electrical signals/impulses to certain parts of the body (via nerve cells). As they operate differently you can say the heart doesn’t depend on the brain. The brain does depend on the heart as the brain still needs oxygen to function.
Hi Jennifer, this is a complicated question. The heart itself has the ability to generate its own contraction. This is due to all the cells of the heart (cardiac myocytes) working together in synchronisation. This is technically called a syncytium. They all carry small electrochemical impulses that drive the heart to contract. This contraction starts at the top right of the heart in an area known as the Sino-Atrial Node. The heart cells then carry the electrochemical impulse to an area in the middle of the heart called the atrio-ventricular node. From here the impulse then spreads down the middle of the heart and around the outside leading to the muscle contracting. The is a single heart beat. However, the rate at which the heart beats IS dependent on the brain and is controlled by two areas. These are located in an area of the brainstem called the medulla. The area responsible for lowering heart rate is called the cardio-inhibitory centre and the area for increasing it is the cardio-acceleratory centre. These are important for reacting to the internal pressures of the body and send messages to the heart in order to control the rate at which it beats. I hope that helps!
Cardiac muscle (the muscle in your heart) is very unique in that it can beat independently. Supposedly if you were to put a heart into some water with some electrolytes it would beat. The SA node (sinoatrial) can (right side of heart) produce electrical signals that makes the heart beat, thus being a natural pacemaker. However heart rate can be affected by hormones such as adrenaline which is controlled via the brain.
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