Chapter 6

ELECTROMAGNETISM

There are plenty of electrical phenomena going on in the brain and there are quantum theory mysteries at the right scale. We will concentrate on that. Electromagnetism is the prime candidate for the "Mind Field", with or without quantum effects. We will now examine this.

Microwaves can be of the right wavelength to cover a few centimeters. The observed voltages are within an acceptable range. The outer surface of a nerve fiber is about 70 millivolts positive with respect to the inside and when a neuron fires one gets an inward current which spreads along the nerve. Electrical events also occur at synapses but probably we do not get anything anywhere much more than 100 millivolts energy (One tenth of a volt). If a moving electron is stopped or has its velocity changed we get a photon of electromagnetic radiation. There is plenty of this going on in the brain. In an Xray tube the wavelength and frequency of the Xrays is determined by the voltage on the tube. The electron causes the Xray emission because it is stopped in its flight when it hits the target. If the maximum voltage is 100 kilovolts then the maximum energy of the xrays is 100 Kev.

In the brain everything is of a different order of magnitude from this but the same principles apply. The maximum energy is only about 100 millivolts. Most of the radiation will be of even lower energy because it will only be of maximum energy if the electron has a free flight and is suddenly stopped. In fact it will be as an ion and will have many collisions with very little energy given off at each collision. We could consider radiation with an energy of one to ten millivolts or even less. The wavelength of the resultant radiation is given by the following formula. (From Radiobiology for The Radiologist by Eric J. Hall):-

Wavelength in Angstrom units = 12.4/E (keV)

At lower energies according to my calculations, this translates to:-

Wavelength in millimeters = 1.24/E (millivolts, energy )

If we take 5 centimeters as the wavelength and 6 GHz (Gigahertz) as the frequency, we get microwaves with a quantum energy of about 20 microvolts. This is a quite possible level. 5 cm would be a good wavelength for the integrative function and the energy is not impossibly small.

There is another source of electromagnetic radiation in the brain which could prove to be much stronger and of much more importance. This arises from the currents along medullated nerves which have already been described and which could well be related to the activity of the conscious mind. This likely to be more in the nature of electromagnetic induction. When a neuron fires we get a current flowing into the nerve within the active area, due to the passage of ions. Immediately after that we get a current in the opposite direction which restores the polarization of the membrane. This is not important from the point of view of generating a magnetic field but it gives rise to the idea that there is no net current along nerves. In fact what happens along a medullated nerve is that, owing to the insulating property of the lipoid material, you get a current leaping almost instantaneously to the next node of Ranvier. We have to wait for the polarization to disappear at this point and we then have a new leap to the next node. It is possible that the current leaps several nodes before cable properties reduce its strength below firing level. At first sight this might look like a modulated current but the leap to the next node is virtually instantaneous and therefore it is really going to look just the same as a continuous transmission, though somewhat faster than in an unmedullated nerve. One may conclude that we get currents along nerves which are capable of causing electromagnetic induction in other nerves. We do know that by the use of "SQUIDS", which are very sensitive devices, magnetic fields are detectable over the surface of the head. What is important is that there will be currents induced in other nerves which would be expected to influence firing levels at least by a biasing effect. These currents would be equivalent to lateral connections in a neural net. That would not stop the neural net from working because right from the start we had random connections and the net could cope with that. It would also be able to cope with random noise. However this is not entirely random noise and it may be an important means of communication as part of the active net. It is more than likely that these electromagnetic connections take a real part in the functioning of the net. Whenever you get an oscillatory loop you would get a significant burst of current maintained for 300 milliseconds and there would also be an electromagnetic field generated by the loop. This would be capable of electromagnetic induction. It is probably no accident that the Hippocampus is curved, as that would enhance the magnetic field generated in the concavity. These magnetic fields could possibly have structure, where information is held in topographic form. That does not imply any neat topographic arrangement but only that information is held in a point to point fashion. If that were the case, it might well be the basis of mind. These currents may be behaving as if they were part of the structure of a neural net rather than just being noise.

We must now consider structures in the brain which could produce or receive waves of a wavelength of a millimeter or of several centimeters. There may be magnetic activity in brains in relation to the navigational ability in birds and possibly some mammals. Both cats and dogs have been known to find their way home over considerable distances in unknown territory. It is well established that homing pigeons possess an internal magnetic compass. It has been reported that magnetic material has been found in the neck of birds but there is no real evidence of a credible anatomical structure in relation to nerve endings there for the detection of magnetic fields. If you are looking for nervous structures in the neck one would expect something like the equilibratory apparatus in the semicircular canals, with sensitive hairs sensing the forces on a ferro-magnetic particle. Sharks can detect electric fields at microvolt levels in their lateral line organs and they do have definite structures there. Nothing of this kind has been found in the neck of birds. It is more than likely that the bird's magnetic compass is located in the brain and that the bird is picking up an induced current from the earth's magnetic field when it circles around before taking off in its chosen direction. It is very likely that birds have a their magnetic detector in the brain in the form of neural loops. One can imagine how moving the head in the earth's magnetic field could create a small current which could cause a bias in a neural loop, making detection possible. If that were the basis of the navigational ability of birds, it has implications with regard to the function of brains in mammals. Bees can also navigate but their compass works from the position of the sun. They do not have a magnetic compass. Maybe that is because they do not have sufficiently large neural loops.

One of the principal tenets of this thesis is that the "Mind" is a manifestation of the emergent properties of complex electro-magnetic fields and that we have varying magnetic fields generated in neural loops which give rise to conscious thoughts. These fields also link up with the biological neural network by electro magnetic induction, having the same validity as direct lateral connections between neurons. There is also the possibility of the generation of short wave radio waves or microwaves in the brain having a similar influence on the neural network. Both of these influences could play a part in the solution of the binding problem , which is concerned with overall cerebral integration. Part of this is perfectly straightforward electro-magnetic induction but the nonlocality problem of quantum physics may be a factor with the radio waves.

If mental phenomena are basically electromagnetic it is should be possible to produce sensory effects in the brain by using microwaves in the range of about 6 GHz or a few GHz or by using electro magnetic induction. One might try modulation at 40 cycles. Such communication would have to be done using complex fields. Otherwise the signals would simply be ignored as noise. How to do this is a difficult and speculative matter. This and other speculations as to how to develop this theory further are dealt with in the IMPLICATIONS section of this web site.