DEAJEON, Feb. 25 (Korea Bizwire) — A recent study has revealed that humans are just as capable as other animals of finding north without a compass.
The National Research Foundation of Korea in Daejeon announced on Sunday that a research team led by Prof. Chae Kwon-seok from Kyungpook National University confirmed that humans also have innate magnetoreception.
The research project was conducted jointly with Prof. Kim Soo-chan from Hankyung University.
The earth, like a single magnet, has its own magnetic field. Fifty types of species, ranging from bacteria to mammals, are known to sense this magnetic field.
Magnetoreception is commonly understood as the sixth sense normally possessed by animals.
Bird migration, and how bees and ants find their whereabouts, are some of the classic examples of putting magnetoreception to work.
There have only been a few studies on magnetoreception in humans, including the Manchester Experiment, where blindfolded students from Manchester University in England were asked to point to the direction of the university, after travelling as far as 50 kilometers onboard a bus.
Chae’s research team first set up a hypothesis that humans can feel the earth’s magnetic field, and this magnetoreception is connected to the survival instinct of human beings,’ and conducted a double-blind test.
The test involved 20 male and female participants between the ages of 20 and 33, who were divided into two groups. One group was properly fed, while the other group fasted for 18 hours.
Each participant was then placed on a swivel chair to see if they could point to the north. During the test, one group was provided with chocolates, while the other group was not.
Participants were blindfolded and wore earplugs, depriving them of both sight and hearing.
The research team asked the participants to swivel on the chair and stop at the direction that they thought pointed north.
The results showed that a male participant who had a chocolate (rise in blood sugar) after 18 hours of fasting was able to find the north.
Others, both male and female, who had been well fed were not able to locate the north.
It was also found out that members were more likely to use their magnetoreception when there was blue light.
The fasting male was able to locate the north when he had his eyes closed without any blindfold. He could not find the north, however, when blindfolded, or when wearing special glasses that block blue light.
The research team concluded that human beings are also equipped with magnetoreception that relies on blue light, and that eyes work as receptors of magnetic fields.
This indicates that cryptochromes, a class of flavoproteins sensitive to blue light, may be the receptors of magnetoreception. Cryptochromes are normally found in the retina of animals, absorbing blue light to locate the north.
“The study revealed the existence of magnetoreception among human beings, and that the human eye works as a receptor,” said Chae.
“We now plan to study the interaction between magnetoreception and neural activities in the human body.”
The study was published in PLOS ONE, an internationally acclaimed journal, last Thursday.
Kevin Lee (email@example.com)