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Physiological effects have been observed in a human subject in response to stimulation of the skin with weak electromagnetic fields that are pulsed with certain frequencies near ½ Hz or 2.4 Hz, such as to excite a sensory resonance. Many computer monitors and TV tubes, when displaying pulsed images, emit pulsed electromagnetic fields of sufficient amplitudes to cause such excitation. It is therefore possible to manipulate the nervous system of a subject by pulsing images displayed on a nearby computer monitor or TV set. For the latter, the image pulsing may be imbedded in the program material, or it may be overlaid by modulating a video stream, either as an RF signal or as a video signal. The image displayed on a computer monitor may be pulsed effectively by a simple computer program. For certain monitors, pulsed electromagnetic fields capable of exciting sensory resonances in nearby subjects may be generated even as the displayed images are pulsed with subliminal intensity.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The invention relates to the stimulation of the human nervous system by an electromagnetic field applied externally to the body. A neurological effect of external electric fields has been mentioned by Wiener (1958), in a discussion of the bunching of brain waves through nonlinear interactions. The electric field was arranged to provide “a direct electrical driving of the brain”. Wiener describes the field as set up by a 10 Hz alternating voltage of 400 V applied in a room between ceiling and ground. Brennan (1992) describes in U.S. Pat. No. 5,169,380 an apparatus for alleviating disruptions in circadian rythms of a mammal, in which an alternating electric field is applied across the head of the subject by two electrodes placed a short distance from the skin.
A device involving a field electrode as well as a contact electrode is the “Graham Potentializer” mentioned by Hutchison (1991). This relaxation device uses motion, light and sound as well as an alternating electric field applied mainly to the head. The contact electrode is a metal bar in Ohmic contact with the bare feet of the subject, and the field electrode is a hemispherical metal headpiece placed several inches from the subject's head.
In these three electric stimulation methods the external electric field is applied predominantly to the head, so that electric currents are induced in the brain in the physical manner governed by electrodynamics. Such currents can be largely avoided by applying the field not to the head, but rather to skin areas away from the head. Certain cutaneous receptors may then be stimulated and they would provide a signal input into the brain along the natural pathways of afferent nerves. It has been found that, indeed, physiological effects can be induced in this manner by very weak electric fields, if they are pulsed with a frequency near ½ Hz. The observed effects include ptosis of the eyelids, relaxation, drowziness, the feeling of pressure at a centered spot on the lower edge of the brow, seeing moving patterns of dark purple and greenish yellow with the eyes closed, a tonic smile, a tense feeling in the stomach, sudden loose stool, and sexual excitement, depending on the precise frequency used, and the skin area to which the field is applied. The sharp frequency dependence suggests involvement of a resonance mechanism.
It has been found that the resonance can be excited not only by externally applied pulsed electric fields, as discussed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,782,874, 5,899,922, 6,081,744, and 6,167,304, but also by pulsed magnetic fields, as described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,935,054 and 6,238,333, by weak heat pulses applied to the skin, as discussed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,800,481 and 6,091,994, and by subliminal acoustic pulses, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,017,302. Since the resonance is excited through sensory pathways, it is called a sensory resonance. In addition to the resonance near ½ Hz, a sensory resonance has been found near 2.4 Hz. The latter is characterized by the slowing of certain cortical processes, as discussed in the '481, '922, '302, '744, '944, and '304 patents.
However, in experiments with adapting stretch receptors of the crayfish, Terzuolo and Bullock (1956) have observed that very small electric fields can suffice for modulating the firing of already active nerves. Such a modulation may occur in the electric field stimulation under discussion.
An easily detectable physiological effect of an excited ½ Hz sensory resonance is ptosis of the eyelids. As discussed in the '922 patent, the ptosis test involves first closing the eyes about half way. Holding this eyelid position, the eyes are rolled upward, while giving up voluntary control of the eyelids. The eyelid position is then determined by the state of the autonomic nervous system. Furthermore, the pressure excerted on the eyeballs by the partially closed eyelids increases parasympathetic activity. The eyelid position thereby becomes somewhat labile, as manifested by a slight flutter. The labile state is sensitive to very small shifts in autonomic state. The ptosis influences the extent to which the pupil is hooded by the eyelid, and thus how much light is admitted to the eye. Hence, the depth of the ptosis is seen by the subject, and can be graded on a scale from 0 to 10.
Certain monitors can emit electromagnetic field pulses that excite a sensory resonance in a nearby subject, through image pulses that are so weak as to be subliminal. This is unfortunate since it opens a way for mischievous application of the invention, whereby people are exposed unknowingly to manipulation of their nervous systems for someone else's purposes. Such application would be unethical and is of course not advocated. It is mentioned here in order to alert the public to the possibility of covert abuse that may occur while being online, or while watching TV, a video, or a DVD.
Many behavioral effects at different intensities have been reported from exposure to magnetic fields, particularly with pulsed magnetic fields. The specific pulseform used appears to be an important factor for the behavioural effect seen; for example, a pulsed magnetic field originally designed for spectroscopic MRI was found to alleviate symptoms in bipolar patients, while another MRI pulse had no effect. A whole-body exposure to a pulsed magnetic field was found to alter standing balance and pain perception in other studies.