The argument on which is important between the heart and the brain comes up from time to time, sometimes in the midst of a serious discussion but more often than not as part of a lighthearted conversation. It often gets disputed when cardiologists and neurologists get together.
The human heart is an organ that pumps blood throughout the body via the circulatory system, supplying oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and removing carbon dioxide and other wastes.
The human brain on the other side is the central organ of the human nervous system, and with the spinal cord makes up the central nervous system. It controls most of the activities of the body.
The human heart is about the size of a fist. It has four chambers: two upper chambers (the atria) and two lower ones (the ventricles), according to the National Institutes of Health. The right atrium and right ventricle together make up the "right heart," and the left atrium and left ventricle make up the "left heart." A wall of muscle called the septum separates the two sides of the heart.
The brain which is contained in, and protected by the skull bones of the head consists of the cerebrum, the brainstem and the cerebellum.
Arguing on which is most important in the life of a human being, we have to briefly explain the functions of the two organs of the body.
Function(s) of the Human Heart
The heart circulates blood to the entire body through two pathways: the pulmonary circuit and the systemic circuit. In the pulmonary circuit, blood gets oxygenated to the left atrium through some processes While on the systemic circuit, Deoxygenated blood returns via veins to the venae cavae, re-entering the heart's right atrium.
The cardiovascular system circulates blood from the heart to the lungs and around the body via blood vessels.
Although, the heart is also a muscle, so it needs a fresh supply of oxygen and nutrients too. So, after the blood leaves the heart through the aortic valve, two sets of arteries bring oxygenated blood to feed the heart muscle.
Meanwhile, blockage of any of these arteries can cause a heart attack or damage to the muscle of the heart, and that may lead to human's death.
Function(s) of the Human Brain
There are many functions of the human brain as it controls almost every part of the human body.
The frontal lobe of the brain is involved in reasoning, motor control, emotion, and language. The motor system of the brain is responsible for the generation and control of movement.
Another function of the brain is sensory. The sensory nervous system is involved with the reception and processing of sensory information. The brain also receives and interprets information from the special senses of vision, smell, hearing, and taste.
Other autonomic functions of the brain include the regulation, or rhythmic control of the heart rate and rate of breathing, and maintaining homeostasis.
One of the functions of the brain also is the production of language. The study on how language is represented, processed, and acquired by the brain is called neurolinguistics.
Another function of the brain is lateralisation in which the cerebrum has a contralateral organisation with each hemisphere of the brain interacting primarily with one half of the body: the left side of the brain interacts with the right side of the body, and vice versa.
Also, cognition which is the ability to process and manipulate information held in working memory, the ability to think about multiple concepts simultaneously and switch tasks with cognitive flexibility, and the ability to determine the relevance of information or appropriateness of an action.
In summary, the brain is much more complicated than the heart. The brain is simply an amazing organ. I never cease to be amazed at the ability of the brain to control functions that we take for granted, things as simple as walking and movement.
The heart on the other hand is a much simpler organ. It has one very straightforward job to do, and that is to pump blood. Nevertheless, the heart is pretty amazing in its special way. To think we have an organ inside that never stops pumping, never takes a break and can continue for 80 or even 100 years in some cases is truly amazing.
In conclusion, when you get down to the question of which is more important, obviously they both are. In fact, it may be useless to try to rank any organ in the body above another - we need them all.
If in case of which one you can live without. Well, according to the experts, your body can still be alive without a brain. On the other hand, it's pretty difficult for your body to be alive without a heart. In either circumstance, the quality of life is pretty poor without one or the other.
According to Dr Lawrence Phillips, a cardiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York."The tissues of the body need a constant supply of nutrition to be active, If [the heart] is not able to supply blood to the organs and tissues, they'll die."
According to Dr Penn Laird Jr. A pediatric heart specialist, technology has advanced to the point in the last 15 years or so that truly artificial hearts do exist. Artificial hearts have been implanted in adults for some time, and recently the first total artificial heart was successfully used in a pediatric patient for 160 days until he was able to receive a living heart transplant.
So, with proofs from the cardiologists, I'd certainly like to think of the heart as more important than the brain, but this is probably not the case! Certainly, we are nowhere near a brain transplant or a artificial brain.
Mudathir Hayatullahi Folorunsho is a 200 level English Language undergraduate of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.