From "Mindpowernews":

In 1997, a book titled A Change of Heart was published that described the apparent personality changes experienced by Claire Sylvia. Sylvia received a heart and lung transplant at Yale–New Haven Hospital in 1988. She reported noticing that various attitudes, habits and tastes changed following her surgery. She had inexplicable cravings for foods she had previously disliked. For example, though she was a health-conscious dancer and choreographer, upon leaving the hospital she had an uncontrollable urge to go to a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet and order chicken nuggets, a food she never ate. Sylvia found herself drawn toward cool colours and no longer dressed in the bright reds and oranges she used to prefer. She began behaving in an aggressive and impetuous manner that was uncharacteristic of her but turned out to be similar to the personality of her donor. Interestingly, uneaten Kentucky Fried Chicken nuggets were found in the jacket of the young man (her donor) when he was killed.

Among the consultants for the book were Dr. Paul Pearsall, PhD (author of "The Heart's Code: Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Our Heart Energy" and many more books) whose name appears as an author of a paper co-written with Dr. Gary E. Schwartz, PhD (author of many books including "The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death") and Dr. Linda G. Russek, PhD (co-author of many books including "The Living Energy Universe: A Fundamental Discovery that Transforms Science and Medicine" with husband, Schwartz).

Claire Sylvia's book and some of the books by the PhDs mentioned above have all been endorsed by that giant of scientific reason, Deepak Chopra. Some of the books written by the aforementioned doctors have also been co-authored by Chopra.

Does cellular memory exist? Were the studies conducted by these doctors published and peer-reviewed in a recognised journal and has there been a proper investigation that confirms or debunks these studies? I would also like to know if the credentials of these authors are genuine as some sites have cast doubts over them.

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    Related question: Can transplant patients remember things their donors experienced?
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 21:07
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    Am I the only one who interprets "uneaten nuggets in the jacket" as meaning that the donor didn't like them? Who puts hot food that they like in their pocket? :-)
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 0:48
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    I agree that this is a dupe. That said, I'm not sure if @MonkeyBoy's amusing answer really cites qualified opinion or studies that debunk this—they appear to hinge more on his own conclusions than anything else. The planaria studies, while related, aren't the same. I'd also really like to know if these "doctors" have credible qualifications. The quackometer links that are cited in the investigation of Pearsall are unreliable.
    – user7920
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 3:59
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    There appears to only be one seemingly official source who appears to tackle this and that is from '96 in an archived Q&A site by somebody named Jeff Punch, who is very likely this guy. Personally, I don't believe that this issue has been tackled properly anywhere. I leave it to the mods on how best to handle this dupe.
    – user7920
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 4:14
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    I wonder if these folks might try to explain why a blood transfusion - a far more common procedure that also transfers cells - doesn't also transfer memories. Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 19:01

2 Answers 2


The answer given to this question

Can transplant patients remember things their donors experienced?

By Monkey Tuesday would appear to cover this question completely

To Quote from that answer "In a word, No. One can't examine this claim without addressing the purported idea of "cellular memory" a topic already dealt with very nicely at the skeptic's dictionary."

Read the full answer there it includes information about Claire Sylvia's book also and the Skeptic's Dictionary.

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    Can you expand this in a full answer? Even @Monkey's answer merely redirects to Skeptic's dictionary. Can you make an answer with full sources?
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Aug 26, 2012 at 13:38
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    The other answer doesn't reference any scientific study that investigates the claim of cellular memory. It's basically just: "There are a lot of anecdotes brought forward in favor of celluar memory. Those anecdotes aren't enough evidence to let as assume that cellular memory exists". I think a complete answer should reference scientific studies that tried to investigate the information that's stored in the PNS.
    – Christian
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 12:31
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    As much as I think the answer to this question is no, there is plenty of published work on cellular memory outside the CNS. We recently published a paper about this. Of course this does not in any way mean that our memories are stored outside the CNS, nor that they can be transmitted to others.
    – nico
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 5:52

The heart is well-known to affect the brain and vice versa. Heart-rate variability correlates with activity in the prefrontal cortex and with working memory performance. Changing hearts changes minds.

To my knowledge there is, however, no neuroscientific evidence for memory processes in the heart. There are obvious indications that the spinal cord has a simple procedural memory. Consider a headless chicken running.

Evidence for heart-related amnesia would be more convincing than introduced memories. There is not enough data to exclude that "embodied cognition" is realized in long-term memory formation throughout neurons. However, the best explanation points toward a different physiological responsiveness of the transplanted heart. If viewed from a perspective of an extended memory system that includes both heart and brain, then the quality of the feedback varies with the properties of the heart (However, brains are more different than hearts - the brain form has a high variance.) Experiments have demonstrated that listening to an artificial heart beat at different speeds affect moral reasoning, so a bidirectional relationship is hard to rule out.

The general consensus in neuroscience is that the brain is responsible for episodic (events) and declarative (facts etc.) memory.