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Bioelectromagnetism is the field of study relating to the interaction between electromagnetic fields and biological entities. Specific areas of study include electrical or electromagnetic fields produced by licinv tissues, cells, or organsims. An example is the cell membrane potential and the electric currents flowing in nerves and muscles. Other fields of study include animal navigation which ustilizes the geomagnetic field and potential effects of man-made electromagnetic fields like those found in cellular phones. Bioelectromagnetism can also refer to the ability of living cells, tissues, and organsims to produce electrical fields and their response to electromagnetic fields.
Bioelectromagnetism is primarily studied through electrophysiology techniques. Luigi Galvani first recorded the phenomenon in the late 18th century, while he was dissecting a frog at a table where he'd been conducting static electricity experiments. Galvani named the phenomenom animal electricity as resulting from an electrical fluid or substance in the nerves.
Some aquatic animals have acute bioelectric sensors that provide a sense known as electroreception while migratory birds navigate, in part, by orienting with respect to the Earth's magnetic field. In extreme instances of electromagnetism, the electric eel can generate a large electric field outside its body, which it uses for hunting and self defense through a dedicated electric organ.
Many behavioral effects have been reported, at different intensities, as a result of exposure to magnetic fields, particularly pulsed magnetic fields. The specific pulseform used appears to be an important factor to the particular behavior effect seen. For example, the pulsed magnetic field used with a spectroscopic MRI alleviated symptoms in bipolar patients, while another different MRI pulse had no effect.
Health Effects & Current Use
The health effects of intermediate range electric and magnetic fields increasigly use in modern telecommunications (300Hz to 10MHz) hasn't been studied nearly as much as the effects of magnetic fields generated by power lines and radio/microwave frequencies (10MHz - 300GHz). Direct effects of electromagnetism on human health have been difficult to prove, and life-threatening interferences are limited to medical devices such as pacemakers and other electronic implants.
However, studies have been conductied with artificial magnetic and electrif fields to investigate their effects on cellular metabolism, apoptosis, and tumor growth. Electromagnetic raditaion in the intermediate range has found a place in modern medicine with the treatment of bone healing and for nerve stimulation and regeneration. These treatments are now approved as a novel cancer therapy in form of Tumor Treating Fields (alternating electric fields in the 100-300kHz frequency range.)
Since some methods involve magnecit fields that invoke electrical currents in biological tissues, while others only involve electric fields, they are strictly speaking, electrotherapies. However, their application with modern electronic equipment has placed them in the bioelectromagnetic interaction category.
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