Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fw: GCI Commentaries - Influence of Geomagnetism

In this commentary I would like to focus on this question: Is there a connection between solar activity, geomagnetic storms and the Schumann resonances and human health and behavior?

In the last commentary, I discussed the Schumann resonances. Like a tuning fork, the earth has natural sound frequencies and these are called Schumann resonances. There are about 1000 lightning storms at any given moment worldwide, which excite the cavity. These resonances form in the conductive ionosphere which acts as a wave-guide. The limited dimensions of the earth cause this wave-guide to act as a resonant cavity for electromagnetic (EM) waves in what are extremely low frequencies bands (see figure below).

Ionospheric EM Wave Propagation
The lowest-frequency mode of the Schumann resonances is approximately 7.83 hertz (Hz), with a daily variation of about ± 0.5 Hz. The other frequencies are 14, 20, 26, 33, 39 and 45 Hz.

At the time physicist W.O. Schumann published the results of his research about these resonances in the journal Technische Physik, a Dr. Ankermüller, a physician, immediately made the connection between the Schumann resonances and the alpha rhythm of brain waves. He found the thought of the earth having the same natural resonance as the brain very exciting and contacted Professor Schumann, who in turn asked a doctoral candidate to look into this phenomenon. This doctoral candidate was Herbert König, who became Schumann’s successor at Munich University. König demonstrated a correlation between Schumann resonances and brain rhythms. He compared human EEG recordings with the natural electromagnetic fields of the environment (1979) and found that the first five Schumann resonances, 0-35 Hz, to be within the same frequency range as the brain waves in a human EEG and the 7.8 Hz signal to be very close to the brain’s alpha rhythm frequency.

The first five Schumann resonances overlap with the brain frequency bands. Note: Brain waves are grouped according to their frequencies and are labeled with Greek letters. Their most common frequencies include alpha, beta, delta and theta.
State Frequency Range State of Mind
Delta 0.5Hz - 4Hz This occurs in a deep dreamless sleep or unconsciousness.
Theta 4Hz - 7Hz This is associated with drowsiness. It also occurs at first stage of sleep and during deep meditation, when we are awake but open to mental imagery. It has been associated with creativity, intuition daydreaming and fantasizing. Believed to reflect activity from the limbic system and increased activity is observed in anxiety, behavioral activation and inhibition.
Alpha 8Hz - 12Hz This is the major rhythm seen in a normal, relaxed adult. It is present during most of life. It is considered a common state during alertness but not actively processing information. Alpha has been linked to creativity (creative people show alpha when listening and coming to a solution) and mental work. Alpha activity is also associated with overall mental and body/mind coordination, calmness, alertness and learning.
Beta 12Hz - 30Hz Beta reflects highly active processing. Occurs during normal waking consciousness and outward attention. Slow beta: 12-17 is normal information processing and mental activity; Fast beta: 17-30 is heightened alertness and fight or flight, or anxiety.
Gamma 30Hz - 100Hz This is associated with waking states and can occur when we are simultaneously processing information in both brain hemispheres. Whales and dolphins also operate in these frequencies.
Since this first discovery, more scientific research has posited that Schumann resonances are very important electromagnetic standing waves, acting as background frequencies and influencing biological oscillators within the mammalian brain.

As long as the properties of Earth’s electromagnetic cavity remain about the same, these frequencies remain the same. Some of the changes that occur in the Schumann resonances are caused by the solar sunspot cycle as Earth’s ionosphere changes in response to changing solar wind associated with the 11-year cycle of solar activity. As the mean intensity of the Schumann resonances increases or decreases because of day/night differences, changes in solar activity, global weather, etc., our brains and nervous systems respond to the changes.

Resonance may be defined as the frequency at which an object most naturally wants to vibrate. For example: In coherent systems, one object may set another object into motion if it shares the same resonant frequency. If, for example, you strike a tuning fork of 100 cycles per second and bring it near another tuning fork of that same frequency, the second tuning fork will be set in motion. Even though it has not been struck, the second fork will begin to vibrate and radiate a sound merely by being in the same field as the vibrating tuning fork.

Influence of Geomagnetism and Schumann Resonances on Human Health and Behavior
Similar to the tuning-fork example, evidence shows it is possible for the brain to detect, tune into and respond to a Schumann resonance signal.

The question arises: How are we able to tune into the Schumann resonances?
The answer is that our brain possesses Zeitgeber, a German word that translates literally to time givers and refers to external agents or events that provide signals – in this case, the Schumann resonances. These external signals help the human biological system to become synchronized with the daily rhythmic cycles of the earth.

Research within the last decade shows that significant alteration in solar and geomagnetic activity caused by such things as geomagnetic storms can precipitate significant changes in the intensity and stability of a Schumann resonance signal. This can take a Schumann resonance signal outside of its normal range and induce alterations in brain and heart synchronization and changes in the brain’s melatonin level.

Some ill effects associated with changes in solar geomagnetic activity:
  • Altered blood pressure.
  • Reproductive, immune system, cardiac and neurological problems.
  • Mental disorders, depression and suicide.
  • Increased hospital admissions, accidents and sudden death, as well as countless other stress-related conditions.
Influence of Geomagnetism and Schumann Resonances on Human Health and Behavior
A number of human reaction-time experiments have been conducted relative to external events and Schumann resonances. In 1974, for example, König showed that human reaction times were significantly correlated with the intensity of the 8-10 Hz Schumann signal. Ten Hz have been shown to speed up reaction times, while 3-Hz signals from local thunderstorms have been shown to significantly lower reaction times. This phenomenon can be demonstrated by changes in EEG patterns and calcium ion uptake in the brain.

The effects of manmade electromagnetic fields on human health
The electromagnetic fields generated by power supply systems, telecommunications, appliances, computers and other technology produced by humans are extremely powerful and in some cases have been associated with increased incidence of cancer, heart disease, depression and other diseases. Exposure to strong electromagnetic fields in residential areas and in certain occupations has been documented as significantly increasing the incidence or risk of the listed diseases. Certain groups of people such as the elderly, children, women who are pregnant and the weak have been found to be more sensitive or susceptible to adverse effects from these fields than the rest of the population. (As is often the case with research, there are opposing opinions on the existence or extent of such adverse effects.)

Thus we see that the Schumann resonances, geomagnetic and solar activity influence human health and behavior. It is exciting to see that the study of Schumann resonances points towards the interconnectedness of all (us, our planet earth, the sun, and probably many other planetary factors we are not aware of yet).

Much more detailed research has been carried out, but it is beyond the scope of this commentary to go into it.

So, in summary, researchers have found evidence indicating that human health and behavior appear to be affected by changes in Schumann resonances. Also, many scientists believe these resonances may be important in human biological cycles.

Possible future considerations for scientists with respect to the Schumann resonances include learning why some people are adversely affected by changes in them, why most people are not and what can be done to help those who are.

In addition to exploring whether mood and health are affected by Schumann resonances, researchers also have studied whether there is a link between historical events such as wars and social unrest with the solar cycle and resulting changes in ionospheric activity. I will write more on this subject in an upcoming commentary.

Allow me to mention two items not directly related to today’s topic:
  • Because increased geomagnetic activity can cause an imbalance in heart-brain synchronization, we want to encourage you to practice coherence regularly to help you maintain that balance.
  • You probably have received e-mails about the GCI’s current Interconnectedness Study, which is aimed at helping us gain a more holistic picture of human health and behavior and how these are influenced by various planetary factors. We will keep you informed about the results. A likely second Interconnectedness Study, in case you missed out on this one, should take place in about six months.
Remember what Albert Einstein said: "Everything in life is vibration."

Until next time, best wishes for good vibrations in your life,

Annette Deyhle, Ph.D. and GCI Research Team

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