An anonymous reader writes "'[T]he brain is enveloped in countless overlapping electric fields, generated by the neural circuits of scores of communicating neurons. ... New work ... suggests that the fields do much more—and that they may, in fact, represent an additional form of neural communication. "In other words," says Anastassiou, the lead author of a paper about the work appearing in the journal Nature Neuroscience (abstract), "while active neurons give rise to extracellular fields, the same fields feed back to the neurons and alter their behavior," even though the neurons are not physically connected—a phenomenon known as ephaptic (or field) coupling. "So far, neural communication has been thought to occur almost entirely via traffic involving synapses, the junctions where one neuron connects to the next one. Our work suggests an additional means of neural communication through the extracellular space independent of synapses."' If this work is replicated, it could reveal that the brain is even more complicated and sophisticated than we thought — and raise new concerns about whether our cellphones and other electronic gizmos are affecting brain activity and memory. This is truly paradigm-busting work."
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