Neuroscience and Magnetic Fields: Future Studies
Will this research lead to additional studies? According to Dr. Dickman, “We have opened a completely new area of research in neuroscience. How does the brain use magnetic field information for positional, heading, and navigation functions? Hundreds of questions need to be answered. Most important, how do all animals know where they are, where to go, how to get there, and what happens when brain disease or trauma impairs those functions. We now have a model to examine those questions.”
Changing a Bird’s Sense of Direction
If the scientists were able to stimulate the birds’ neurons through an artificial magnetic field, we wondered if it would be possible to manipulate their sense of direction with that field? (Reprogramming the GPS, so to speak) We asked Dr. Dickman, and he agreed that it was, “Absolutely” possible.
Additional research on this topic may provide more details, but the most surprising result may never be surpassed – the fact that a pigeon’s brain cells are sophisticated enough to act as a GPS system, using the Earth’s magnetic field to find the right direction! According to Dr. Dickman, “these brain cells have all the information needed to determine Earth latitude and directional heading (like a compass).”
Wu, L.-Q, Dickman, J. D. Neural Correlates of a Magnetic Sense. (2012). Science Express. Accessed April 26, 2012.
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