Does magnetoreception mediate biological effects of power-frequency magnetic fields?
The question of possible biological effects of power-frequency magnetic fields (PF-MF) remains controversial, notably because no valid mechanism of interaction could be proposed so far for intensities relevant to human and animal exposure (e.g. such as near high-tension power lines). In rodents, however, a few consistent effects of weak PF-MF have been reported. These are, notably, influence on spatial memory and partial inhibition of melatonin secretion under long-lasting exposure. Recent developments in study of magnetoreception in mammals justify reviving the hypothesis previously proposed of the intervention of the magnetic sense in melatonin disruption by PF-MF. We revisit this hypothesis and revise and extend it with respect to current knowledge and, particularly, with respect to reported effects on spatial memory. Proposals are made for experimental testing of the hypothesis. We argue that these tests may provide further insight into mechanisms of biological interactions of PF-MF and also, into mechanisms of magnetoreception per se.
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