The avian pineal gland as an independent magnetic sensor

Neurosci Lett. 1985 Nov 20;62(1):119-22. doi: 10.1016/0304-3940(85)90294-0.


The electrical activity of pigeon pineal cells was modified by gradual inversion of the natural magnetic field. Effects were also found in blinded birds, and following surgical and chemical interference with the neural connections of the pineal, indicating that the gland possesses intrinsic magnetic sensitivity. The results are in line with the concept that magnetic field detection is associated with photoreceptor activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blindness / physiopathology
  • Columbidae / physiology*
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena*
  • Optic Nerve / physiology
  • Photoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Pineal Gland / cytology
  • Pineal Gland / physiology*
  • Propranolol / pharmacology
  • Sensation / drug effects
  • Sensation / physiology*


  • Propranolol