The operation of the nervous system has been typically viewed as an intermediary between actively sensing the environment and then actively producing a response. This framework unfortunately ignores the propensity of the brain to generate its own patterned and synchronized activity in the absence of any active input or output. A major pattern in this regard is the slow oscillation, a rhythm that appears across vast expanses of the forebrain and which entrains other local patterns of population activity. The functional relevance of this input- and output-decoupled slow network rhythm remains a mystery, but one that will probably be solved by an elucidation of both the cellular and the inter-cellular mechanisms giving rise to it in the first place. What is particularly compelling is that the activity could be not only modulated, but also eliminated or even regenerated by imposed electrical fields. Most shockingly, this activity could be transmitted from one side of a surgically severed slice to the other when the two cut edges were simply placed in close proximity.Shouldn't have been surprising. On the receiving end, neurologists have been influencing brain function with magnetic fields since 1840. Magnetic therapy was used and respected until 1920 when the pill-pushers redefined all previous cures as "quackery". The tinfoil stayed on until 1980, when magnetic fields were "newly" discovered and actively used again. On the sending end, radio fish have a transmitting antenna containing ordinary neurons arranged and configured to match the impedance of the muddy water around the fish. The field from this antenna carries at least several feet and probably more. The fish uses the field for radar and also for two-way communication with nearby fish. So wave-based communication inside one brain is pretty much guaranteed. It's far LESS surprising or demanding than the ways Nature already uses electric fields.
Labels: Grand Blueprint
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