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ON THE POSSIBILITY OF DIRECTLY ACCESSING
EVERY HUMAN BRAIN BY
| Summary -- Contemporary neuroscience suggests the existence
of fundamental algorithms by which all sensory transduction is
translated into the intrinsic, brain-specific code. Direct
stimulation of these codes within the human temporal or limbic
cortices by applied electromagnetic patterns may require energy
levels which are within the range of both geomagnetic activity
and contemporary communication networks. A process which is
coupled to the narrow band of brain temperature could allow all
normal human brains to be affected by a subharmonic whose
frequency range at about 10 Hz would only vary by 0.1 Hz.
The pursuit of the basic algorithms by which all human brains
operate can be considered a central theme of modern neuroscience.
Although individual differences are expected to accommodate most
of the variance in any specific neurobehavioral measure, there
should exist basic patterns of information and structure within
brain space. They would be determined by the human genome, i.e.,
be species-specific, and would contribute to or would serve as
the substrate upon which all phenomena that affect
neurobehavioral measures are superimposed.
One logical extrapolation to a neurophysical basis of
consciousness is that all experiences must exist as correlates
of complex but determined sequences of electromagnetic matrices.
They would control the theme for the format of cognition and
affect while the myriad of possible serial collections of random
variations of "noise" within the matrices could potentially
differentiate between individual brains. Identification of these
sequences could also allow direct access to the most complex
neurocognitive processes associated with the sense of self, human
consciousness and the aggregate of experiential representations
(episodic memory) that define the individual within the brain
The existence of fundamental commonalities between all human
brains by which a similar physical stimulus can affect them is
not a new concept. It is demonstrated daily by the similar shifts
in qualitative functions that are evoked by psychotropic drugs.
Classes of chemical structures, crudely classified as
antidepressant, antipsychotic, or anxiolytic compounds, produce
general attenuations of lowered mood, extreme eccentric thinking,
or extreme vigilance. The characteristics of these changes are
very similar within millions of different human brains regardless
of their cultural or genetic history. The idiosyncratic
experiences such as the specific thoughts and images which
reflect each person's continuing process of adaptation are
superimposed upon these general functions. When translated into
the language of neuroelectrical domains, the unique components
of individual consciousness would be both embedded within and
interacting with the species-invariant patterns.
We have been studying the phenomenological consequences of
exposure to complex electromagnetic fields whose temporal
structures have been derived from the most recently observed
neuroelectrical profiles such as burst-firing or long-term
potentiating sequences (Brown, Chapman, Kairiss, & Keenan, 1988)
which can be considered the prototypical basis of a major domain
of brain activity. These temporal patterns of potential codes for
accessing and influencing neuronal aggregates have been applied
across the two cerebral hemispheres (through the regions of the
temporoparietal lobes or within the region of the
hippocampal-amygdaloid complex) of the brain as weak
electromagnetic fields whose intensities are usually less than
10 milligauss (1 microT). The purpose of this research, as
suggested by both E.R. John (1967) and Sommerhoff (1974), is
to identify the basic codes for the language of the
representational systems within the human brain.
In the tradition of Johannes Mueller, we have assumed that
the normal transduction of stimuli by sensors into afferent,
graded potentials and the subsequent translation into digital
patterns of action potentials (which are more likely to behave
functionally as a composite of pixels within a neural field) can
be circumvented by _direct_ introduction of this information
within the brain. Induction of complex information would require
simulation of the resonance patterns which would normally be
transiently created by sensory afferents. The basic premise is
that synthetic duplication of the neuroelectrical correlates
generated by sensors to an actual stimulus should produce
identical experiences without the presence of that stimulus.
We have focused upon the polymodal and most labile portions of
the parahippocampal (Van Hoesen, 1982) and entorhinal cortices
(Vinagradova, 1975) and the anterior superior gyrus of the
temporal cortices (Bancaud, Brunet-Bourgin, Chauvel, & Halgren,
1994) as the region within which circumvention would be most
probable. Extraction and translation of neural patterns from
different sensory inputs into common codes occur within these
regions before they are consciously perceived (Edelman, 1989).
That central codes are present was shown by E.R. John (1967, pp.
348-349) who reported an immediate transference of the operant
control of a response from a pulsatile auditory stimulus to a
pulsatile visual stimulus if its _temporal_pattern_ was
identical to the previous (acoustic) stimulus.
We (Fleming, Persinger, & Koren, 1994) reported that whole
brain exposure of rats to a 5-microT burst-firing magnetic field
for 1 sec. every 4 sec. evoked an analgesic response that was
similar to that elicited by the application of more noxious,
tactile simulation for 1 sec. every 4 sec. directly to the
footpads. Direct electrical stimulation of the limbic structures
which simulate episodic, systemic application of muscarinic
(cholinergic) agents can evoke electrical kindling (Cain, 1989).
More recently, direct induction of chaotic electrical sequences
within the labile CA1 region of the hippocampus has been shown
either to promote and attenuate paroxysmal discharges (Schiff,
Jerger, Duong, Chang, Spano, & Ditto, 1994).
These results strongly indicate that imitation of the temporal
pattern of sensory transmission directly within the brain by any
nonbiogenic stimuli can evoke changes which are just as effective
as (and perhaps require less energy than) classical transduction.
As stated more recently and succinctly by E.R. John (1990), the
fundamental operation of brain electrical activity suggests that
some form of frequency encoding may play a significant role in
informational transactions within and between brain structures.
Consciousness would be associated with an electromagnetic pattern
generated by a neural aggregate with invariant statistical
features which are independent of the cells contributing to each
feature (John 1990, p. 53).
The effects of applied time-varying magnetic fields upon brain
activity have been considered minimal or within the range of
normal biological limits unless the intensity of the field
exceeded natural endogenous or exogenous (ambient) levels by
several orders of magnitude. Until very recently, almost all of
the studies from which this conclusion was derived involved
highly redundant stimuli such as 60 Hz fields or repetitive
pulses. A simple illustration presents the problem: only 1 min.
of a 60-Hz sine-wave field exposes a neural net to 3,600
presentations (60 sec. x 60 cycles per sec.) of the _same_
redundant information. Even general estimates of habituation
(Persinger, 1979) such as the equation H=IRT2/Rt
(IRT=interresponse time, Rt=duration of response) indicate that
habituation to the stimulus would have occurred long before its
termination after 1 min. Although the burst-firing frequencies
(100 to 200 Hz) of the hippocampal neurons, for example, exceed
this pattern, they are not temporally symmetrical and exhibit a
variability of interstimulus intervals that would contain
different information and would attenuate habituation.
The apparent dependence of organismic responses upon the
intensity of the applied electromagnetic field, the
"intensity-dependent response curve," could simply be an
artifact of the absence of biorelevant information within the
wave pattern. If the temporal structure of the applied
electromagnetic field contained detailed and biorelevant
information (Richards, Persinger, & Koren, 1993), then the
intensity of the field required to elicit a response could be
several orders of magnitude below the values which have been
previously found to elicit changes. For example, Sandyk (1992)
and Jacobson (1994) have found that complex magnetic fields with
variable interstimulus pulse durations could evoke unprecedented
changes in melatonin levels even with intensities within the
The classical counterargument that "very strong" magnetic
fields must be present "to exceed or to compensate for the
electromagnetic noise associated with intrinsic (Boltzmann)
thermal energies" is based upon equations and calculations for
the quantitative indices of aggregates of molecular activity and
not upon the _pattern_ of their interaction. There are other
possibilities. For example, Weaver and Astumian (1990) have shown
mathematically that detection of very weak (microV/cm) fields can
occur if the response is exhibited within a narrow band of
frequencies; the detection is a function of both thermally
induced fluctuations in membrane potential and the maximum
increment of change in the membrane potential which is evoked by
the applied magnetic field. The ion-cyclotron-resonance model
which was initiated by the research of Blackman, Bename,
Rabinowitz, House, and Joines (1985) and supported by Lerchl,
Reiter, Howes, Honaka, and Stokkan (1991) indicates that, when an
alternating magnetic field at a distance (resonance) frequency is
superimposed upon a steady-state magnetic field, the movement of
calcium and other ions can be facilitated with very small
energies. More than 25 years ago, Ludwig (1968) developed a
compelling (but hereto ignored) mathematical argument which
described the absorption of atmospherics within the brain.
Above these minimal thresholds, the information content of the
wave structure becomes essential. The simplest analogy would be
the response of a complex neural network such as a human being to
sonic energy. If only a 1000-Hz (sine wave) tone were presented,
the intensity required to evoke a response could well exceed 90
db; in this instance the avoidant response would be overt and
crude. However, if the structure of the sonic field was modified
to exhibit the complex pattern which was equivalent to
biorelevant information such as "help me, I am dying," field
strengths several orders of magnitude weaker, e.g., 30 db, could
be sufficient. This single, brief but information-rich stimulus
would evoke a response which could recruit every major cognitive
If the information within the structure of the applied
magnetic field is a major source of its neurobehavioral effect,
then the "intensity-dependent" responses which are interpreted as
support for experimental hypotheses of biomagnetic interaction
could be both epiphenomenal and artifactual. Such amplification
of electromagnetic-field strengths would also increase the
intensity of the extremely subtle and almost always ignored
subharmonics, ripples, and other temporal anomalies which are
superimposed upon or within the primary frequency. These subtle
anomalies would be due to the artifacts within the different
electronic circuits and components whose similarities are based
upon the fidelity of the endpoint (the primary frequency) despite
the different geometries employed to produce the endpoint.
If information rather than intensity is important for
interaction with the neural network (Jahn & Dunne, 1987), then
_these_ unspecified "background" patterns may be the source of
both the experimental effects and the failures of
interlaboratory replications. A concrete example of this problem
exists within the putative association between exposure to power
(60 Hz) frequency magnetic fields and certain types of cancer.
The existence of these transients, often superimposed upon the
fundamental 60-Hz frequency, is still the least considered factor
in the attempts to specify the characteristics of the fields
which promote aberrant mitosis (Wilson, Stevens, & Anderson,
Within the last five years, several researchers have reported
that direct and significant effects upon specific neuropatterns
can be evoked by extremely weak magnetic fields whose intensities
are within the range of normal geomagnetic variations. Sandyk
(1992) has discerned significant changes in vulnerable subjects
such as patients who were diagnosed with neurological disorders
following exposure of short durations to magnetic fields whose
strengths are within the pT to nT range but whose spatial
applications are multifocal (a fasces-type structure) and
designed to introduce heterogeneous patterns within a very
localized brain space. The effective components of the field
(which are assumed to be discrete temporal patterns due to the
modulation of the frequency and intensity of the electromagnetic
fields) are not always obvious; however, the power levels for
these amplitudes are similar to those associated with the signals
(generated globally by radio and communication systems) within
which most human beings are exposed constantly.
The most parsimonious process by which all human brains could
be affected would require (1) the immersion of all the
approximately 6 billion brains of the human species within the
same medium or (2) a coercive interaction because there was
facilitation of a very narrow-band window of vulnerability within
each brain. For the first option, the steady-state or "permanent"
component of the earth's magnetic field meets the criterion. The
possibility that masses of susceptible people could be influenced
during critical conditions by extremely small variations (less
than 1%) of the steady-state amplitude (50,000 nT) of the earth's
magnetic field such as during geomagnetic storms (50 to 500 nT)
has been discussed elsewhere (Persinger, 1983). Recent
experimental evidence which has shown a threshold in geomagnetic
activity of about 20 nT to 30 nT for the report of vestibular
experiences in human beings and the facilitation of limbic
seizures in rodents is consistent with this hypothesis.
The potential for the creation of an aggregate process with
gestalt-like properties which reflect the average
characteristics of the brains that are maintained with this
field and that generate the aggregate has also been developed
(Persinger & Lafreniere, 1977) and has been labelled the
"geopsyche." This phenomenon would be analogous to the vectorial
characteristics of an electromagnetic field which is induced by
current moving through billions of elements such as wires
contained within a relative small volume compared to the source.
Such gestalts, like fields in general, also affect the elements
which contribute to the matrix (Freeman, 1990).
The second option would require access to a very narrow limit
of physical properties within which all brains are maintained to
generate consciousness and the experience of self-awareness.
This factor would be primarily loaded by the variable of brain
temperature. Although the relationship between absolute
temperature and wavelength is generally clear [an example which
can be described by Wien's law and is well documented in
astrophysics (Wyatt, 1965)], the implications for access to
brain activity have not been explored. The fragile
neurocognitive processes that maintain consciousness and the
sense of self normally exist between 308[degrees]K and
312[degrees]K (35[degrees]C and 39[degrees]C). The fundamental
wavelength associated with this emission is about 10 micrometers
which is well within the long infrared wavelength.
However, the ratio of this normal range divided by the
absolute temperature for normal brain activity which maintains
neurocognitive processes is only about 0.013
(4[degrees]K/312[degrees]K) or 1.3%. If there were a subharmonic
pattern in naturally occurring or technically generated magnetic
fields which also reflected this ratio, then all brains which
were operative within this temperature range could be affected
by the harmonic. For example, if 11.3 Hz were one of these
subharmonic electromagnetic frequencies, variations of only 1.3%
of this mean, i.e., 11.3 Hz +/- [plus or minus] 0.1 Hz, would
hypothetically be sufficient to affect the operations of all
normal brains. If this "major carrier frequency" contained
biorelevant information by being modulated in a meaningful way,
then the effective intensities could well be within the natural
range for background radiation (microwatts/cm2) and could be
hidden as chaotic components within the electromagnetic noise
associated with power generation and use.
One of the major direct prophylactics to the effects of these
fields would require alterations in core (brain) temperature
such as deep but reversible hypothermia. However, this condition
would disrupt the biochemical process upon which neuronal
activity and hence consciousness depends. Treatments which
precipitate alterations in neural activity, similar to those
which are associated with crude hypothermia, would be less
disruptive. Specific candidates which affect multiple receptor
systems such as clozepine (Clozaril) and acepromazine could be
possible pharmacological interventions.
The characteristics of the algorithm for euthermic
individuals are likely to be conspicuous (once isolated) but
should now be hidden within the synchronous activity which is
(1) modified and filtered by aggregates of neurons and (2)
modulated by sensory inputs and intrinsic oscillations (Kepler,
Marder, & Abbott, 1990) before they are crudely measured by
electrodes. Because the fundamental algorithm would be
essentially a stable parameter of body temperature, most
electrode montages (including monopolar to a nonbrain reference,
e.g., ear) would cancel or attenuate this index. Effectively,
the algorithm would be expressed in a manner similar to
descriptors for other aggregate phenomena as a physical constant
or as a limited set of these constants. This suggestion is
commensurate with the observation that the underlying neuronal
networks which coordinate millions of neurons manifest the
properties of a (mathematical) strange attractor with a very
limited number of degrees of freedom (Lopes, Da Silva, Kamphuis,
Van Neerven, & Pijn, 1990).
The physical chemical evidence for a fundamental process,
driven by a narrow limit of biological temperature, has been
accumulating. Fixed, oscillatory electromagnetic variations have
been shown _in_vitro_ for enzymes of the glycolytic pathway
(Higgins, Frenkel, Hulme, Lucas, & Rangazas, 1973) whose narrow
band of temperature sensitivity (around 37[degrees]C) is well
known. Although these oscillations are often measured as periods
(2.5-min. cycles), Ruegg (1973) reported a clear temperature
dependence of these oscillations within a range of 1 to 20 Hz
between 20[degrees]C and 35[degrees]C in invertebrate muscle.
The most probable brain source which might serve as the
primary modulatory of these biochemical oscillators would
involve structures within the thalamus (Steriade & Deschenes,
1984). Neuronal aggregates with surprisingly fixed (within
0.1-Hz) oscillations are found within this structure and depend
primarily upon neurons that require gamma amino butyric acid or
GABA (von Krosigk, Bal, & McCormick, 1993). This inhibitory
amino acid is specially derived from the normal,
temperature-sensitive degradation of glucose by the GABA shunt
(Delorey & Olsen, 1994).
Within the last two decades (Persinger, Ludwig, & Ossenkopp,
1973) a potential has emerged which was improbable but which is
now marginally feasible. This potential is the technical
capability to influence directly the major portion of the
approximately six billion brains of the human species without
mediation through classical sensory modalities by generating
neural information within a physical medium within which all
members of the species are immersed. The historical emergence
of such possibilities, which have ranged from gunpowder to
atomic fission, have resulted in major changes in the social
evolution that occurred inordinately quickly after the
implementation. Reduction of the risk of the inappropriate
application of these technologies requires the continued and
open discussion of their _realistic_ feasibility and
implications within the scientific and public domain.
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Accepted March 15, 1995.
Please send reprint requests and correspondence to Dr. M.A.
Persinger, Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory, Laurentian,
Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, Ontario P3E 2C6, Canada.