An interesting finding by scientists at Case Western Reserve University, that neurons may communicate via electrical fields:
Scientists think they’ve identified a previously unknown form of neural communication that self-propagates across brain tissue, and can leap wirelessly from neurons in one section of brain tissue to another – even if they’ve been surgically severed.
…To that end, Durand and his team investigated slow periodic activity in vitro, studying the brain waves in hippocampal slices extracted from decapitated mice.
What they found was that slow periodic activity can generate electric fields which in turn activate neighbouring cells, constituting a form of neural communication without chemical synaptic transmission or gap junctions.
It’s important to note that these results happened in vitro, that is, in an artificial environment outside of a living brain. Still, this is the first time anyone has been able to scientifically demonstrate a form of communication between neurons called ephaptic coupling, communication via electrical field, which is regarded as a “jaw dropping” result.
Indeed it’s so jaw dropping that skepticism is called for. We need to see replication of these results by other teams. Unfortunately, I don’t anticipate that caution will be heeded in a lot of circles. I suspect a lot of people are going to run with this result, regardless of its limitations and uncertainties.
It will be interesting to see if these results hold up!