Myogenic Heart vs. Neurogenic Heart

What's the Difference?

The myogenic heart and neurogenic heart are two different types of cardiac systems found in animals. In a myogenic heart, the heart muscle itself generates its own electrical impulses, which initiate and regulate the heartbeat. This means that the heart can beat even when it is removed from the body. On the other hand, in a neurogenic heart, the electrical impulses that control the heartbeat are generated by specialized nerve cells called pacemaker cells. These cells are located outside the heart and send signals to the heart muscle to contract and relax. Unlike the myogenic heart, the neurogenic heart relies on external stimuli to initiate and regulate the heartbeat.


AttributeMyogenic HeartNeurogenic Heart
Control of HeartbeatInternally generated by specialized cardiac cellsExternally regulated by nerve impulses
Origin of HeartbeatOriginates within the heart itselfOriginates from the central nervous system
Heart Rate RegulationCan be influenced by hormones and local factorsPrimarily regulated by the autonomic nervous system
Presence of Pacemaker CellsContains specialized pacemaker cells (e.g., sinoatrial node)Relies on pacemaker cells located in the central nervous system
Ability to Generate Rhythmic ContractionsCapable of generating rhythmic contractions without external inputRequires external input from the nervous system to generate rhythmic contractions
Response to StressCan adapt heart rate and contractility in response to stressCan modulate heart rate and contractility based on nervous system signals

Further Detail


The heart is a vital organ responsible for pumping blood throughout the body, ensuring the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to various tissues and organs. In the animal kingdom, there are two main types of hearts: myogenic and neurogenic. While both types serve the same purpose, they differ in their mechanisms of generating and regulating the heartbeat. In this article, we will explore the attributes of myogenic and neurogenic hearts, highlighting their similarities and differences.

Myogenic Heart

A myogenic heart is one that can initiate and regulate its own heartbeat without external stimulation from nerves. This type of heart is commonly found in invertebrates, such as insects, mollusks, and crustaceans. The primary attribute of a myogenic heart is its ability to generate rhythmic contractions through specialized cardiac muscle cells called pacemaker cells. These pacemaker cells possess intrinsic electrical activity, allowing them to spontaneously depolarize and trigger the contraction of the heart muscle.

Within the myogenic heart, the pacemaker cells are typically concentrated in a specialized region called the sinoatrial (SA) node. The SA node acts as the natural pacemaker of the heart, initiating electrical impulses that spread throughout the cardiac muscle, resulting in coordinated contractions. This rhythmicity allows the heart to maintain a steady beat, ensuring efficient blood circulation.

Another important attribute of myogenic hearts is their ability to adjust the heart rate based on physiological demands. Various factors, such as hormonal signals, temperature changes, and physical activity, can influence the rate at which the pacemaker cells depolarize, consequently altering the heart rate. This adaptability allows myogenic hearts to respond to the body's needs, ensuring an adequate blood supply during different situations.

Neurogenic Heart

Unlike myogenic hearts, neurogenic hearts rely on external nervous stimulation to initiate and regulate the heartbeat. Neurogenic hearts are commonly found in vertebrates, including mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. In these animals, the heart is controlled by a specialized cluster of nerve cells called the sinoatrial (SA) node, located in the right atrium.

The SA node in neurogenic hearts receives signals from the autonomic nervous system, specifically the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions. The sympathetic division, often associated with the "fight or flight" response, releases norepinephrine, which increases the heart rate and force of contraction. On the other hand, the parasympathetic division, associated with the "rest and digest" response, releases acetylcholine, which decreases the heart rate and promotes relaxation.

One of the key attributes of neurogenic hearts is their ability to respond rapidly to changes in the body's needs. The autonomic nervous system can modulate the heart rate and contractility in real-time, allowing for precise adjustments during various activities, such as exercise, stress, or sleep. This dynamic control ensures that the heart can efficiently adapt to different physiological demands, optimizing blood flow to meet the body's requirements.


While myogenic and neurogenic hearts differ in their mechanisms of generating and regulating the heartbeat, they share some common attributes. Firstly, both types of hearts are responsible for pumping blood and maintaining circulation throughout the body. Regardless of the mechanism, the ultimate goal of the heart remains the same.

Secondly, both myogenic and neurogenic hearts possess specialized cells that initiate and coordinate the contraction of the heart muscle. In myogenic hearts, these cells are pacemaker cells located in the SA node, while in neurogenic hearts, they are nerve cells in the SA node. These cells generate electrical impulses that propagate through the heart, resulting in synchronized contractions.

Lastly, both types of hearts exhibit the ability to adjust the heart rate based on physiological demands. Whether through intrinsic pacemaker activity or external nervous stimulation, the heart can modulate its rate to meet the body's needs. This adaptability ensures that the heart can respond to changes in activity levels, stress, or other factors that require alterations in blood flow.


In conclusion, the myogenic and neurogenic hearts represent two distinct mechanisms of generating and regulating the heartbeat. Myogenic hearts, found in invertebrates, rely on specialized pacemaker cells to initiate rhythmic contractions. On the other hand, neurogenic hearts, found in vertebrates, depend on external nervous stimulation to control the heart rate and contractility. While they differ in their mechanisms, both types of hearts share the common goal of maintaining blood circulation and possess the ability to adjust the heart rate based on physiological demands. Understanding the attributes of myogenic and neurogenic hearts provides valuable insights into the diversity of cardiac systems across the animal kingdom.

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