Study Shows Electrical Fields Influence Brain Activity

Jul 14, 2010
Neuronal activity is measured by EEG. Now it appears that electrical fields influence behavior of brain cells.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Most scientists have viewed electrical fields within the brain as the simple byproducts of neuronal activity. However, Yale scientists report in the July 15 issue of the journal Neuron that electrical fields can also influence the activity of brain cells.

The finding helps explain why techniques that influence electrical fields such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and deep brain stimulation are effective for the treatment of various neurological disorders, including depression. The study also “raises many questions about the possible effects of electrical fields, such as power lines and cell phones, in which we immerse ourselves,” said David McCormick, the Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Neurobiology at Yale School of Medicine, a researcher of the Kavli Institute of Neuroscience and senior author of the study.

The chemical process that triggers tiny charges in the membranes of neurons causes much of the brain’s . Electroencephalograms, or EEGs, detect these fluctuations when they occur in large numbers of neurons together. These internal electrical signals contain information about certain cognitive and behavioral states but, until now, it had not been shown whether they actually change the activity of the brain itself.

McCormick and Flavio Frohlich, a postdoctoral research associate, introduced slow oscillation signals into and found that the signal created a sort of feedback loop, with changes in electrical field guiding , which in turn strengthened the .

“It’s like asking whether the roar of the crowd in the football stadium also influences you to cheer as well. And in turn, your cheering encourages others to cheer along with you.” McCormick said.

The ability of electric fields generated by the brain to influence its own activity appears to be particularly prominent during . However, the influence of electric fields is not limited to these pathological states. The study of Frohlich and McCormick demonstrates that the electrical fields also influence brain function during normal activities such as sleep.

McCormick said the findings change the way in which we view brain function and may be of significant clinical value in controlling epilepsy, depression and other neural dysfunctional states.

Explore further: Conceptual representation in the brain: Towards mind-reading

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User comments : 5

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ormondotvos
5 / 5 (1) Jul 14, 2010
Where's the study?
Sinister181
5 / 5 (1) Jul 15, 2010
Also, where are the results?

If this had've been looked into years ago, we would've known the answers by now.
dirk_bruere
5 / 5 (1) Jul 15, 2010
It's called "entrainment" and has been known for decades.
GJS
not rated yet Jul 15, 2010
Dr. Magda Havas, of Trent University (Peterborough, Ontario) and others have studied these issues for some time. The RFI, EMI, UV, and flicker emitted by CFLs have been associated with brain activity. This is particularly noticeable in Traumatic Brain Injury survivors. See the website cflimpact.com for a compendium of these papers and videos.
Sancho
not rated yet Jul 15, 2010
The late Dr Robert O Becker cited cyclotron resonance to explain the apparent interaction of neurons and non-ionizing radiation. CR creates biochemical effects in neurons exposed to a magnetic field in the presence of microwaves. CR can effect the release of lithium ions in the brain.

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