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.
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.
"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.
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