Saturday, March 10, 2007

Scientists say nerves use sound, not electricity

The common view that nerves transmit impulses through electricity is wrong and they really transmit sound, according to a team of Danish scientists.

The Copenhagen University researchers argue that biology and medical textbooks that say nerves relay electrical impulses from the brain to the rest of the body are incorrect.

"For us as physicists, this cannot be the explanation," said Thomas Heimburg, an associate professor at the university's Niels Bohr Institute. "The physical laws of thermodynamics tell us that electrical impulses must produce heat as they travel along the nerve, but experiments find that no such heat is produced."

This immediately reminded me of my ongoing bout of tinnitus. Speaking of which, I have a hunch this site might be onto something:

The striking similarities between the Tinnitus sounds and the sound produced by positive feedback in electronic circuits processing audio signals suggest that Tinnitus sounds are caused by positive feedback between neurons in the auditory neural system in the brain by inappropriate axon connections.

There's definitely an "electronic" aspect to what I'm experiencing. It can range from a sort of hiss to a high-frequency whine that recalls microphone feedback. I woke up one morning and actually thought an insect had crawled into my ear.


Carol Maltby said...

A friend with tinnitus told me this week that she's had some success treating it as something tied in with a low-level ear infection. She says she uses saline spray constantly, and that gingko biloba has also helped.

Unknown said...

I didn't even consider the Tinnitus link when I first read about this -- thanks for the brainfood. I lost a band to tinnitus when our lead singer/mandolin player got it for over a year.

Mac said...

"Got it for over a year" implies it went away or abated eventually. Maybe there's hope!