New 3D Map Reveals A “Little Brain” Inside The Heart

You might not now, but the heart has its own “brain.” Scientists have managed to draw a detailed map of the little brain, officially known as the rat hearts’ intracardiac nervous system.

The brain controls the heart, but there are nerve cells inside the heart that impact its behavior. Those neurons play an essential role in the health of the hearth, helping it precisely tweak its rhythms and protecting it against a deadly disease.

Up until now, the local control system of the heart hasn’t been mapped correctly in advanced detail. Modern technology has helped a group of scientists to do just that.

How Was It Made

Biologist James Schwaber made the map at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and his colleagues. They imaged female and male rat hearts with a method known as knife-edge scanning microscopy, which can create advanced imagery of heart anatomy.

After gathering the images, the scientists put them together in a 3-D model of the heart. They also analyzed the amount of gene activity inside each cell.


The measurements they made broke the lump of heart neurons into discrete groups. Most of them dot the top of the heart, where blood vessels can be observed coming in and out.

Some clusters have been observed spreading down the back of the heart, and neurons could also be seen in abundance on the left side.

The newly-made discoveries are significant as they can help scientists figure out if those groups have designated jobs.

The 3-D map of the heart’s tiny “brain” could potentially help scientists treat or prevent heart diseases of human patients, and that would be terrific.

Heart disease is one of the most common conditions of modern society. It affects numerous adults, and in some cases, even children.