More Blood, More Brainpower
PEOPLE can think better with an increased heart rate, claims John Cacioppe, of the University of Notre Dame in Ohio. He conducted experiments with persons having heart pacemakers. The pacemakers were preset to give a basic heartbeat of 72 beats per minute. He raised the heartbeat to 88 by putting a small magnet over the pacemaker. No danger was involved, and the subjects were not even aware of the increased heartbeat.
First, Cacioppe had 14 articulate outpatients read a test passage for comprehension and answer questions on it afterward. In a second test he had them make up as many short sentences, conforming to certain simple rules, as they could in 90 seconds. In both tests he found that speeding up the heart rate of these subjects improved their performance. In the comprehension test, for example, their score went from 39 percent to 49 percent.
Another test involving 24 subjects, this time using argumentative passages that they were to express agreements and disagreements about, revealed the same thing: increased rate of heartbeat increased the number and quality of arguments presented.