In the Asturias region of northwest Spain, a cave drawing of a woolly mammoth has a single, internal feature: a large red heart. This work of art, at least 14,000 years old, likely depicts a successful hunt and bloody wound. From the earliest days of our species, the detection of a pulse, the preservation of respiration and the beating of a heart have served to separate a piece of meat from a living being.
The fundamental connection between breathing, heartbeat and life itself began to change as knowledge of the brain’s role in consciousness evolved and as technology made it possible to use machines to operate the heart and lungs while a patient remained on life support. Today, we define life and death by the presence or absence of brain activity. That makes sense because, unlike other organs, the brain not only signals life, but is essential to you, the individual, to your own unique qualities of identity, memory, knowledge and subjective experience of the world.
Read more courtesy of Phil Jaekl and aeon.co