Magnetically Induced Hallucinations, And You

Posted by on May 13th, 2010

skitched-20100513-131607.jpgWhat is Transcranial magnetic stimulation?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is an extraordinary technique pioneered by neuroscientists to explore the workings of the brain. The idea is to place a human in a rapidly changing magnetic field that is powerful enough to induce currents in neurons in the brain. Then sit back and see what happens.

Since TMS was invented in the 1980s, it has become a powerful way of investigating how the brain works. Because the fields can be tightly focused, it is possible to generate currents in very specific areas of the brain to see what they do.

Focus the field in the visual cortex, for example, and the induced eddys cause the subject to ‘see’ lights that appear as discs and lines. Move the the field within the cortex and the subject sees the lights move too.

This has led some researchers to think about taking the technology from the lab and into the field where it could have all sorts of uses from the heat of battle to office Christmas party shenanigans.

[Technology Review]

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