Discoveries Magazine


Hearts and Minds


With the Heart Institute and neurosciences sharing research and clinical space in the new Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion, let’s see how tickers and gray matter match up at Cedars-Sinai and elsewhere.

Doctor Who | Timelords have two hearts and one brain (albeit a really smart one).

Dr. Seuss | The Grinch’s heart is an empty hole, and his brain is full of spiders. But by the end of the story, after a change of mind, his heart grows three sizes.

Early beliefs | Ancient Greek physician Alcmaeon of Croton was the first to believe that the brain, not the heart, was the central organ of feelings and thoughts.

Energy | Each day, the heart creates enough energy to drive a truck 20 miles. When we’re awake, our brain generates enough electricity to power a lightbulb.

Hot vs. cold | Patrick D. Lyden, MD, chair of the Department of Neurology, is leading the largest clinical trial on the use of hypothermia, or brain cooling, to decrease swelling after an acute stroke. Meanwhile, Cedars-Sinai investigators are developing a method for transporting warm, beating hearts for transplant.

Injections | The Department of Neurosurgery developed a dendritic cell vaccine that enables the immune system to target even aggressive brain tumors. A pioneering Heart Institute clinical trial used cardiac stem cell injections to help damaged hearts regrow healthy muscle.

Karaoke | One catalog lists 644 songs with the word “heart” in the title, but only 11 with the word “brain.”

Mapping | Cedars-Sinai’s three-dimensional angiographic imaging suite enables surgeons to more accurately navigate catheters through blood vessels by creating a virtual reality map of the patient’s brain. Investigators at the Medical Center developed imaging software used worldwide for noninvasive quantification of heart function.

Sea life | An octopus has three hearts—a systemic or main heart, and two smaller ones that pump oxygen-depleted blood to the gills. Sponges lack brains and central nervous systems entirely. Clams and oysters have neural structures that perform certain functions but do not have brains, per se.

Second brain | The heart has its own “brain” of nearly 40,000 neurons that senses, learns, and sends messages to the head brain about how the body “feels” and other information.

Weight | The average adult human brain weighs approximately 3 pounds, the heart around 11 ounces.

Wizard of Oz | The Tin Man wants a heart, while the Scarecrow needs a brain. Despite the happy ending, the Wizard’s surgical skills seem, at best, questionable.

Zombies | The undead generally hunger for brains and seem lacking in heart.

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