Welcome to the E-athlete. A short introduction.

Apart from man being a very complex chemical organism, man is also an electrical organism (let’s not discuss about what comes first, chemistry of electricity, since chemistry is electromagnetism as well).

The electric organism

The electric organism

We tend to forget this despite the fact that in real life we all know and apply this idea. All nervous systems, central, peripheral  as well as autonomic, use electricity as a code to transfer information from e.g. the brain to other neurons, to muscles or to the heart.

It’s can be a simple code too: the acceleration of the frequency of the heartbeats e.g. from 60 to 80 beats per minute, can be seen as a signal from the brain through the autonomic nervous system to the heart: the basic meaning is e.g. ”beat faster, send more blood to the muscle in order to prepare for fight-or flight, I sensed a potential threat”.

Let’s have a look at the three main electrical systems in the human body.

 

The brain.

 

One of the best ways to study the brain is still by EEG, electro-encephalography, which studies the dynamics of frequency-bands as an expression of activity of local neurons in the brain. These are the famous gamma-, beta-, alpha-, theta-, delta- and omega- bands.

EEG frequency bands

EEG frequency bands

The autonomic nervous system controls many vital functions and again through the conduction of electrical impulse ending at different organs, glands or smooth muscles.

 

The heart

 

The heart is considered to be the third brain (the expression “the second brain” was already attached to the gastro-intestinal system). It’s electrical activity is studied by ECG or electro-cardiography, which tells us about the function of the heart and vascular system.

Heart and ECG

Heart and ECG


The muscles

 

Muscles, the main equipment for movement and communication,  are controlled by the central and peripheral nervous system and it activity can be measured by EMG or electro-myography. With EMG the level and the timing of muscular activity can be measured.

raw EMG

raw EMG

 Not only do we attempt to measure and to understand these electrical signals, we do modify them indirectly and directly as well. Indirectly e.g. by training we all know the resting heart rate decreases as the athlete increases his/her endurance or we can see changing of EMG frequency and recruitment patterns by exercise and training.

 

But also we can change the electric code directly: did you ever use EMS (electro-myostimulation) or TENS (transcutenuous nerve stimulation, mainly to decrease pain), where electric frequencies are used to stimulate the neuromuscular system? Also an electric stimulus can be used to modify brain waves.

 

Not only is does the body generate electricity, like a battery does, but it also responds to electricity like the body has a certain resistance and impedance to an applied current.

 

We know this phenomenon from the well-known body composition tests by bioimpedance. In this simple test a very small current is applied to the limbs and the conductance is measured. Because water (muscle!) and fat have different conductance properties, we are able to derive the body composition from it. But more sophisticated testing can show us a lot more about the functioning of organs, tissues and cells, see my recent post on the new test.

 

The electrical systems are susceptible to strong electricity, like power lines, thunder strike, or putting a finger into an electrical outlet or empty socket. But it might be that electricity is also acting on a more subtle level of electromagnetism, in that case one can wonder what the long-term effects of electromagnetic pollution are, like power lines, Wi-Fi, radar, and other forms of electromagnetic information etc.  Don’t forget that electricity as widespread as it exists now, apart from touching an electric eel, or getting hit by a thunder strike. did not exist in our natural environment until Tesla and Edison. Maybe our own electrical systems did not get time to adapt to this “new” phenomenon yet.

 

No doubt there is still a lot to learn in this field, think about acupuncture, and other bio-electromagnetic phenomena. Here we touch the field of energy medicine.

 

Abbreviation

EEG

ECG

EMG

Meaning

Electro-encephalography

Electro-cardiography

Electro-myography

Organ/tissue

Brain, CNS

Heart, ANS

Muscle

Frequency spectrum

0-40 Hz

0.5-3 Hz

0-100 Hz

Electric overactivity

Epilepsy

Fibrillation

Cramp or spasticity

Electric underactivity

Coma, brain death

Death

Paralysis

Modification

Electroshock, TCS, TMS

Defibrillation, pacemaker

EMS, TENS

 

Bibliography:

Gershon, M.D: The second brain; Harper, New York, 1999.

Becker, R.O: Cross-currents; The Promise of Electromedicine, the Perils of Electropollution; Torcher, Los Angeles, 1990.

Becker, R.O:  The body electric; Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life; Morrow, New York, 1985.

König, H.L: Unsichtbare Umwelt; Eigenverlag, München, 1977.(in German, but very good!)

Warnke, U: Der Mensch und die 3. Kraft; Popular Academic verlag, Saarbrücken, 1997. (in German)

Freeman, W.J; Quiroga, R.Q: Imaging Brain Function With EEG; Springer, New York, 2013

Bayes De Luna, A: Basic Electrocardiography; Blackwell, Oxford, 2007.

Cruiswell, E: Cram’s Introduction to Surface Electromyography; Jones and Bartlett, Boston, 2011.

 

About Henk Kraaijenhof

My name is Henk Kraaijenhof and I started this blog as a random collection of concepts, ideas, stories and events that are important or interesting to me in my work as an international performance consultant in a wide range of fields, and sometimes outside of my work. I will try to post a new entry every 3-4 days. Feel free to comment if you like.

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