Weak electric fields modulate neuronal activity, and knowledge of the interaction threshold is important in the understanding of neuronal synchronization, in neural prosthetic design, and in the public health assessment of environmental extremely low frequency fields. Previous experimental measurements have placed the threshold between 1 and 5 mV/mm, although theory predicts that elongated neurons should have submillivolt per millimeter sensitivity near 100 μV/mm. We here provide the first experimental confirmation that neuronal networks are detectably sensitive to submillivolt per millimeter electrical fields [Gaussian pulses 26 msec full width at half-maximal, 140 μV/mm root mean square (rms), 295 μV/mm peak amplitude], an order of magnitude below previous findings, and further demonstrate that these networks are more sensitive than the average single neuron threshold (185 μV/mm rms, 394 μV/mm peak amplitude) to field modulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7255-7261
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number19
StatePublished - Aug 13 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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