Humans were found to have magnetoreception as researchers have discovered distinct brain wave patterns that occur in response to an Earth-strength magnetic field.
According to a new study conducted by scientists from the United States and Japan and published in eNeuro, people have a “sixth sense” for magnetism similarly with birds, fish and some other creatures which can detect Earth’s magnetic field and use it for navigation.
The experiment placed 26 participants with their eyes closed, in complete stillness, in a dark and quiet room filled with electrical coils that control the magnetic field inside the chamber sustaining it in the same strength as the Earth’s natural field. They were monitored by an EEG cap that recorded the electrical activity of their brains while the surrounding magnetic field revolved in various directions.
After comparing the findings, scientists noted that changes in the magnetic field prompted changes in people’s alpha waves which usually fade when someone receives sensory input.
Interestingly, people’s brains responded when the magnetic field pointed toward the floor in front of a participant facing north (Earth’s magnetic field points in the Northern Hemisphere) but it did not respond to a rotating magnetic field pointed toward the ceiling (the direction of Earth’s field in the Southern Hemisphere).
“The brain is taking [magnetic] data, pulling it out and only using it if it makes sense,” a neurobiologist and geophysicist at Caltech, Joseph Kirschvink, stated.
The brain’s detection of counterclockwise but not clockwise rotations “is something surprising that we don’t really have a good explanation for,” coauthor Connie Wang, who studies magnetoperception at Caltech pointed out.