Bioelectromagnetics , also known as bioelectromagnetism, is the study of the interaction between electromagnetic fields and biological entities. Areas of study include electrical or electromagnetic fields produced by living cells, tissues or organisms; for example, the cell membrane potential and the electric currents that flow in nerves and muscles, as a result of action potentials. Others include animal navigation utilizing the geomagnetic field; potential effects of man-made sources of electromagnetic fields like mobile phones; and developing new therapies to treat various conditions. The term can also refer to the ability of living cells, tissues, and organisms to produce electrical fields and the response of cells to electromagnetic fields.
Biological phenomena 
Short-lived electrical events called action potentials occur in several types of animal cells which are called excitable cells, a category of cell include neurons, muscle cells, and endocrine cells, as well as in some plant cells. These action potentials are used to facilitate inter-cellular communication and activate intracellular processes. The physiological phenomena of action potentials are possible because voltage-gated ion channels allow the resting potential caused by electrochemical gradient on either side of a cell membrane to resolve.
Bioelectromagnetism is studied primarily through the techniques of electrophysiology. In the late eighteenth century, the Italian physician and physicist Luigi Galvani first recorded the phenomenon while dissecting a frog at a table where he had been conducting experiments with static electricity. Galvani coined the term animal electricity to describe the phenomenon, while contemporaries labeled it galvanism. Galvani and contemporaries regarded muscle activation as resulting from an electrical fluid or substance in the nerves.
Some usually aquatic animals have acute bioelectric sensors providing a sense known as electroreception while migratory birds navigate in part by orienteering with respect to the Earth's magnetic field. In an extreme application of electromagnetism the electric eel is able to generate a large electric field outside its body used for hunting and self defense through a dedicated electric organ.
Thermal effects 
Most of the molecules in the human body interact weakly with electromagnetic fields in the radiofrequency or extremely low frequency bands. One such interaction is absorption of energy from the fields, which can cause tissue to heat up; more intense fields will produce greater heating. This can lead to biological effects ranging from muscle relaxation (as produced by a diathermy device) to burns.Many nations and regulatory bodies like the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection have established safety guidelines to limit EMF exposure to a non-thermal level. This can be defined as either heating only to the point where the excess heat can be dissipated, or as a fixed increase in temperature not detectable with current instruments like 0.1°C. However, biological effects have been shown to be present for these non-thermal exposures; Various mechanisms have been proposed to explain these, and there may be several mechanisms underlying the differing phenomena observed. Biological effects of weak electromagnetic fields are the subject of study in magnetobiology.
Behavioral effects 
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.
A strong changing magnetic field can induce electrical currents in conductive tissue such as the brain. Since the magnetic field penetrates tissue, it can be generated outside of the head to induce currents within, causing transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). These currents depolarize neurons in a selected part of the brain, leading to changes in the patterns of neural activity. In repeated pulse TMS therapy or rTMS, the presence of incompatible EEG electrodes can result in electrode heating and, in severe cases, skin burns. A number of scientists and clinicians are attempting to use TMS to replace electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to treat disorders such as severe depression. Instead of one strong electric shock through the head as in ECT, a large number of relatively weak pulses are delivered in TMS therapy, typically at the rate of about 10 pulses per second. If very strong pulses at a rapid rate are delivered to the brain, the induced currents can cause convulsions much like in the original electroconvulsive therapy. Sometimes, this is done deliberately in order to treat depression, such as in ECT.
See also 
- Electric fish
- Electrical brain stimulation
- Electromagnetic radiation and health
- Kirlian photography
- Michael Persinger
- Mobile phone radiation and health
- Specific absorption rate
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
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