In an effort to develop new ways of diagnosing and treating diseases, scientists are increasingly tracking the various patterns by which the body senses and reacts to stimuli.
Such patterns, commonly referred to as body rhythms, are a constant dynamic. A foot senses a crack in the sidewalk and the brain instructs the muscles to compensate so the person doesn’t fall down. Within the body, when cells detect too much carbon dioxide, the lungs respond by taking a breath. To get the right response, neurons, or nerve cells, communicate by emitting electrical impulses that are picked up by other neurons.
Researchers are finding that measuring these electrical impulses can reveal the presence of disease. Recent studies have shown that children with autism have significantly different brain-wave patterns than children without the disorder.
Other studies have found that brain waves in people with epilepsy behave differently shortly before a seizure.
James Collins, a researcher at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, in Boston, has been investigating what he calls balance-control rhythms to understand why people are less steady on their feet as they get older and what can be done to correct that.
See on online.wsj.com