What About the Heart?

“A recent article I read mentioned that the “gut” is the center of the emotional domain.  Actually, the brain produces emotion in the limbic brain (middle brain), but isn’t the heart the place we associate with emotions?”

That’s a great question!  There is much to be said about the heart.  After all, we say, “I love you with all my heart,” and make paper hearts for Valentine’s Day (which really look nothing like a real heart).  However, the heart is actually the intersection of the three learning domains – cognitive, affective and kinesthetic.  Educational researchers William Huitt and Shelia Cain in 2005 posited that another domain, the conative, provide the connection.  In their words,

Conation refers to the connection of knowledge and affect of behavior and is associated with the issue of “why.”  It is the personal, intentional, planful, deliberate, goal-oriented or striving component of motivation.  Some of the conative issues one faces daily are:

  • What is my life’s purpose and are my actions congruent with that purpose?
  • What are my aspirations and goals?
  • On what ideas, objects, events, etc., should I focus my attention?
  • What am I going to do, what actions am I going to take, what investments am I going to make?
  • How well am I accomplishing what I set out to do? (Source: http://edpsycinteractive.org/papers/conative.pdf)

Note that all these items can be related to the interaction of all three learning domains.  It can also connect the believer to a fifth domain – one of spirituality.  This is why the brave soldier is said to have “heart.”  It is also why painfully negative events can make us “heartsick.”  We cognitively realize the negativity of the event in our minds, we affectively feel sick to our stomachs, and kinesthetically, our bodies becomes weaker.

It’s important to exercise and nourish our bodies to keep our joints and muscles functioning properly, but also to provide good cardiovascular health.  It’s important to exercise and nourish our minds for proper brain health, acuity and awareness, and it’s also important to learn about and control our emotional intelligence which helps to shape our behaviors.  All three of these domains working as a system help to keep the heart healthy, and allows us to fulfill the purpose to which each of us is called.