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Humans can have an age-old ability to capture magnetic fields

Humans may have a sixth sense to capture Earth's magnetic field. Known as magnetoreception, meaning is one of the ways birds and fish can travel vast distances with surprising accuracy – a built-in compass for traveling around the globe. So far, however, it had not been seen in humans.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology and the University of Tokyo searched for this ancient sense by recording the brain waves of 29 participants using electroencephalography (EEG). They measured alpha waves, the dominant brainwaves that you see when people are resting and not processing sensory input. When our senses are stimulated, be it our seeing, hearing or sense of touch, our alpha rhythm goes down.

  Why do we get used to odors? © iStock "title =" Why do we get used to odors? © iStock "data-lightbox-src =" https://media.immediate.co.uk/volatile/sites/4/2018/08/iStock_86520283_LARGE-54f0786.jpg?quality=90&w=1200&h=675 "/> [19659004] The participants sat in a Faraday cage blocking all electronic and magnetic interference, and the researchers used a series of electric coils to create artificial magnetic fields, maintaining the vertical component of the Earth's magnetic field as normal, and manipulating the horizontal component, the simulates what would happen if a participant turned his head left or right, and when the magnetic field changed, participants experienced a decline in alpha rhythms, which told researchers that the brains of the participants were sensing this change in magnetic field with alpha. Rhythms that react in the same way as they would respond to a sight, sound or touch stimulus. </p>
<p>  Joe Kirschvink, geophysicist at Caltech and one of the authors of the Study proposes a way how this could happen inside our brain Magnetite, iron crystals that occur in human cells could be affected by the earth's magnetic field like miniature compass needles. It's a phenomenon that can be seen on many nordsensitive creatures. </p>
<p>  "Many animal tissues produce tiny magnetic crystals," Kirschvink said. "The best example is the magnetotactic bacteria. There is enough magnetite in their cells to passively rotate with the Earth's magnetic field. So we say there are cells that contain tiny magnetite crystals that do this somewhere in the nervous system and send signals to our brain. "</p>
<p>  Participants were not aware of changes in magnetic field strength They experienced changes in their alpha waves. This could mean that our magnetosensory systems may lack a component that allows us to consciously sense that sense. </p>
<p>  "The brain perceives many things that we are unaware of," Kirschvink said. "In fact, the trigeminal nerve that we believe brings this information, most of its sensory inputs are not in our conscious consciousness. On the other hand, there are people who are aware of it and we have not found it yet. </p>
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