Magnetoreception: Do Humans Possess A Sixth Sense?

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For quite some time, we’ve been told that birds find their way home. There are some of us that are just good with directions and some that are not as receptive. Are navigatory senses related to the magnetic field? What’s the science behind it? Birds and other organisms like bacteria, fruit fly, bats and pigeons are known to have a unique sense called magnetoreception. Magnetoreception or magnetoception allows a body to detect the Earth’s magnetic field and accordingly navigate its way.

Fish are known to have a sense of magnetoreception.
Fish are known to have a sense of magnetoreception.

Since the past few decades, scientists have been trying to find out if humans too can sense a magnetic field. Debates go on as to whether this “sixth sense” helps some to be good with directions.

An experiment conducted by CalTech provided evidence that some humans do have a more advanced sense of magnetoception. This happens due to the response of alpha waves to the Earth’s magnetic field. Check out the experiment over here:

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Even though the Earth’s magnetic field is very feeble (25-65mT), some of us respond to this field at a very subconscious level. Faraday’s Cage is placed in complete darkness during the experiment. Electrodes placed on the subject’s head provide signals from the brain that are analysed during the test. Over the last few decades, many experiments and research has been carried out about this field.

The Conclusion?

We cannot say for sure if humans possess a sense of magnetoreception. However, we have enough evidence to support the fact that the brains of some humans respond to the Earth’s magnetic field. Even if you can sense the magnetic field, it is at a subconscious level. So no, you can’t become Magneto anytime soon. The question still remains, do we have a compass in our heads? Did this help explorers discover new places in the past? Let’s hope science unravels the mystery soon.

Further Reading:

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