Toronto–The fluctuations of your heartbeat may affect your wisdom, finds an interesting study suggesting that the heart rate variation and thinking process work together to enable wise reasoning about complex social issues.
The study identifies how the heart’s functioning impacts the mind and the conditions under which psychophysiology impacts wise judgement.
Human heart rate, which tends to fluctuate even during steady-state conditions, refers to the variation in the time interval between heartbeats and is related to the nervous system’s control of organ functions.
The findings, published online in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, showed that the physiology of the heart, specifically the variability of heart rate during low physical activity, is related to less biased, wiser judgement.
“Our research shows that wise reasoning is not exclusively a function of the mind and cognitive ability,” said lead researcher Igor Grossmann, professor at University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
Also, people who have greater heart rate variability and who are able to think about social problems from a distanced viewpoint or from a third-person perspective demonstrated a greater capacity for wise reasoning.
However, when the study’s participants were instructed to reason about the issue from a first-person perspective, no relationship between heart rate and wiser judgement emerged, the researchers explained.
Further, though people with greater variation in their heart rate showed superior performance in the brain’s executive functioning such as working memory, it is not necessary that people are wiser.
In fact, some people may use their cognitive skills to make unwise decisions. To channel their cognitive abilities for wiser judgement, people with greater heart rate variability first need to overcome their egocentric viewpoints, the Grossmann suggested.
The study opens the door for further exploration of wise judgement at the intersection of physiological and cognitive research.