Electric fields applied to brain tissue will affect cellular properties. They will hyperpolarise the ends of cells closest to the positive part of the field, and depolarise ends closest to the negative. In the case of neurons this affects excitability. How these changes in transmembrane potential are distributed depends on the length constant of the neuron, and on its geometry; if the neuron is electrically compact, the change in transmembrane potential becomes an almost linear function of distance in the direction of the field. Neurons from the mammalian hippocampus, maintained in tissue slices in vitro, are significantly affected by fields of around 1-5 V m(-1).