Effects of Weak Electric Fields on the Activity of Neurons and Neuronal Networks

Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2003;106(4):321-3. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.rpd.a006367.


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).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Electricity
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Hippocampus / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology*
  • Membrane Potentials / radiation effects*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / radiation effects*
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurons / radiation effects*
  • Radiation Dosage