Love: Between Hearts and Brains

Writer: Shahi Ezz Eldin

Editor: Abdallah Sobhi

It has for so long been oddly unexplainable for me why love has always been acquainted with the heart and why we repeatedly blame that poor muscle for falling for the wrong people and loving them to their cores, wishing we had followed our mind from the beginning and listened to that husky whisper of consciousness in our ears. 

But the truth is, dear love birds, that the heart is innocent of all accusations, and that the one in charge of our misery and joy, our hatred and admiration, is the one who played guilty and made us all believe it was the wise spoken—it is the brain. 

Let’s go back to the point where all this started, to ancient Egyptians who thought that the human heart was actually the brain; they lacked adequate means to obtain knowledge on the human brain and kept the heart during mummification processes while having the brain regularly removed, for it was assumed that the heart is the central seat of intelligence, feelings, and memories. And this is when we got the phrase : “memorizing something by heart.“ 

Now let’s move on to Ancient Greece, during the 5th or 6th century, after first practicing dissection on the human brain. The human body was considered sacred and the Greek views of brain functions were generally uninformed by anatomical study. Alcmeaon of Crotone was the first philosopher and theorist to consider the brain as the seat of thought: “The storing up of perceptions gives  memory and belief, and when these are stabilized, you get knowledge.“

Other dualists later that era held the belief that thoughts, ideas, and feelings come from the brain, and not the heart as most believed.

Now finally, after our ancestors came up with the fact that minds are located in brains not hearts and that hearts are only blood pumping muscles and have nothing to do with how feelings arise, when did they align to love? How did they know where their tenderness and compassion came from?

Although love has always been associated with poetry, art, and philosophy, scientists have come up with a perfect yet simple explanation to why we love from our brains not our hearts. 

The heart is simply the servant of the master, the master of all times to be specific—the brain. It is a very simple organ whose only function is to pump oxygenated blood to fellow organs .

So how did it get involved with all the complications of relations and feelings? 

One day the brain arised a feeling of love towards a person, so it quickly sent that important piece of information to the heart, who was so confused and started beating faster and stronger as if it were running away from danger, but there was nothing to be afraid of really; we were just in love . 

So the next time you try to be charming and romantic, whether your significant other is a poet or a biologist, say, “I love you from the center of my brain” instead of “from  the bottom of my heart.“ And when they ask you why tell them all about your research-based knowledge on love.