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Nicolette Sinensky


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How does virtuality translate into reality?

This week in my bioelectricity class, we spoke about electrical stimulation of nerves. One method of stimulation is to place a electrode directly on the surface of a nerve. One of the considerations of this method, however, is that the anode (positively charged side) and cathode (negatively charged side) of the electrode each cause a redistribution of charge around the electrode. Consequently, the anode induces a complementary "virtual cathode" and the cathode creates a complementary "virtual anode." These components aren't actually there, but we can observe a similar redistribution of charge that implies that something unseen is going on. Despite the fact that these components are not physically present, they have real effects on the functionality of both the electrode and the nerve. The virtual cathode and anode can cause a very real, measurable voltage change in the nerve, and can effectively block a nerve signal, which is dependent on the voltage.

In what other ways can intangible entities have physical manifestations? In this case, the unintended effect has a negative consequence, but can we find useful applications of such a circumstance?

Also, if these imaginary aspects can effect reality, what does that say about our definition of what is real and what isn't?


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    Apr 6 2012: This remind me a lot of what quantum mechanics say about the metaphysical nature of reality.

    For example, I know many quantum theorist talk about how sub-atomic particles influence what we would consider to be the physical/external world and when certain experiments were done in accordance to Bell's Theorem, it only showed that there was more to the world than what meets the eye, which is why some quantum theorist asserts that the inherent makeup of the universe is non-physical/intangible (some people like Deepak Chopra and Amit Goswami asserts that its consciousness, whatever that may be)...

    now I am aware that bioelectricity is a vital component to our bodies nervous systems but I was quite flabbergasted to find out that that virtual cathode's and anode's can actually affect neuro activity, which in turn can affect our experience of the world..so if this is true, then the implications are profound and should make us question exactly what is real.

    I do have one question:

    when you state ". The virtual cathode and anode can cause a very real, measurable voltage change in the nerve, and can effectively block a nerve signal, which is dependent on the voltage".....is this in regards to the action potential of the electrical membrane of cells (neurons)?
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      Apr 6 2012: Orlando,
      That is exactly what I was referring to. The virtual cathode creates a hyperpolarization that counteracts the usual polarization needed to propagate the action potential.
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        Apr 6 2012: Hi Nicolette,

        thanks for the response an that is very interesting...my only question is, is this something that can occur naturally or only occurs when given the right manipulation?

        I only ask being that, if it does occur naturally and the virtual cathode does block the nerve signal that would propagate the action potential, then what we percieve and expereince isn't really the full picutre, given the fact that the proper information is not getting to the level of the brain.

        Given that I am not a scientis, I'm not sure if this is what is actually being implied so correct me if I'm taking anything out of context but nonetheless this is intriging.

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