Biophysicist Joe Kirschving and his team used recordings of the brain to search for a sixth sense in humans.It turns out that - similarly to other animals - the human is capable of sensing the magnetic field of the Earth.
Whereas the published study proves that people can sense the magnetic field of the Earth, it still does not provide any explanations to other issues that have been surrounding the controversial problem for decades. If we really have a subconscious "magnetic" sense, does it affect our behaviour in any way?And, does it originate from iron that is present in our brains, as it is claimed by the authors of the study?
Different species, such as bacteria, snails, frogs or lobsters, only seem to detect the Earth's magnetic field, while certain animals - such as migratory birds - also rely on it while navigating.It was difficult to test the phenomenon in humans.Biophysicist Joe Kirschving at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena used electroencephalography (EEG).His team recorded brain activity by means of electrodes places on the human scalp.The effect occurred in less than one third of the participants; it seems to indicate that individual genetic factors or past experiences affect a given person's sensitivity to a magnetic field.
Stuart Gilder, a geophysicist at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, describes the study as very exciting and - most probably - based on solid grounds.What he adds is that the outcome of the research is still in need for further tests, such as those involving the measurement of how different field strengths or rotation speeds affect the brain activity.