The heart, colored red in this section of a fifteen-day-old mouse embryo, is located at the center of the body in many animals. In the fourth century B.C., the Greek philosopher Aristotle described the heart as “the center of vitality in the body” and “the seat of intelligence, motion, and sensation.” He hypothesized that other organs, such as the brain and lungs, existed simply to cool the heart. It was not until 1628 that English physician William Harvey accurately described the function of the heart for “the transmission of the blood, and its propulsion.” Today, although our understanding of the heart’s biology has advanced, we still hold on to romantic interpretations of its function based on those early philosophical writings — Happy Valentine’s Day!
February is Heart Month
A fifteen-day-old mouse embryo was dissected, fixed, sectioned, stained with a dye, and viewed with a wide-field light microscope. The heart in this digital image was then colored red using a computer.
Gerald W Dorn II, MD, Center for Pharmacogenomics, Washington University, St. Louis, MO