Many animals, including some species of birds, sea turtles and some species of bacteria have a special “navigation system” that allows them to feel and use the Earth’s magnetic field as a compass. This ability is called magnetoreception. About it scientists learned in the early 70-ies. Since the 90s, experiments were conducted to find the same features in people. However, to find evidence of this ability then failed. Technology and methods of analysis since that time has evolved significantly, so in our days, an international group of researchers decided to conduct a new experiment with people looking at the issue from a new perspective. The results of the work of the researchers described in the journal eNeuro.
It turned out that some people are really able to feel the magnetic field. And as the study, which was conducted a year earlier, the people can do it, probably through magnetic particles (magnetite), scattered around the entire region of the brain.
“The first time scientists have witnessed a clear response to changes in magnetic fields in humans. Even if in itself the magnetic field is not physically felt by the person, the brain signals observed by the scientists showed a clear response to the change in the intensity of the magnetic field,” — commented the results of the study Michael Winklhofer, biologist at Oldenburg University named after Karl von Osickova not taking part in this study.
To find out whether people feel the magnetic field, the scientists invited to participate in the new experiment, 34 adult volunteer. They were asked to sit in a dark test chamber, in which there were large square magnetic coil. Supplying current to these coils, the scientists changed the intensity and orientation of magnetic field in the chamber.
While the participants were at the request of scientists in a relaxed state and with eyes closed, the researchers manipulated the magnetic field around them. To monitor changes of brain activity (alpha waves) to each participant in the experiment conducted electroencephalogram (EEG).
It turned out that when the magnetic field amplitude of brain activity changes in the alpha range — 8 to 13 Hertz. The experiment showed that among the 34 participants in four suffered from a severe reaction the reaction to a single change in the orientation of the magnetic field: a shift from North-East to North-West. This shift will be the same as the person outside the camera, as if he quickly turned his head from left to right, but given the fact that the head moves through a static magnetic field, not the field, moving around him.
Also the other four people observed a reduced activity of alpha-brain wave in amplitude by as much as 60 percent. But they reacted only when the field shifted from the North-East to North-West, not the other way.
Researchers can not yet explain this phenomenon. But according to one of the assumptions associated it may be with some unique feature, similar to the one in which some people are right handed and some are left-handed.
In addition, it is noted that the part of the participants of the experiment showed a strong reaction to a shift in the slope of the field, which in real terms would be the reaction to your journey between the Northern and southern hemispheres of the planet.
To exclude the coincidence of the results obtained in the first experiment, the researchers conducted repeated experiments on the same voluntary a few weeks later. It is reported that the results were unchanged, which only adds to the credibility of the study.
In the opinion of the researchers who conducted these experiments, they do not consider these results as opening. Most people are not able to feel the magnetic field, because the brain of each person is unique, as is manifested, for example, in our abilities. For example, some people are good at art, others at math. In other words, human organs should not behave and react the same way.
Experts also believe that the ancestors of man possessed the ability to sense the magnetic field, but in the course of evolution, this ability has lost relevance. However, some remnants of it in some people is still preserved, even if they don’t use it in their daily lives.
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