Neural Feedback: Brain Influences Itself with Its Own Electric Field: Scientific American: In the study, Yale University neurobiologists David McCormick and Flavio Fröhlich surrounded a still-living slice of ferret brain tissue with an electric field that mimicked the field an intact ferret brain produces during slow-wave sleep. The applied field amplified and synchronized the existing neural activity in the brain slice. These results indicate that the electric field generated by the brain facilitates the same neural firing that created the field in the first place, just as the cloud of enthusiasm that envelops a cheering crowd at a sports stadium encourages the crowd to keep cheering. In other words, the brain’s electric field is not a by-product; it is a feedback loop.
Although researchers knew that periods of highly synchronized neural activity (such as that of deep sleep) are crucial for maintaining normal brain function, exactly how these stable phases are coordinated—and why they go awry in dis orders such as epilepsy—was never clear. The new study indicates scientists may find some answers in the surprisingly active role of the brain’s electric field.