Skip to main content

Measurement and Modeling of the Electric and Magnetic Fields Associated with Bioelectric Activity in Animals and Humans

John Wikswo
Department of Physics and Astronomy
6809 Stevenson Center
615-343-4124 (office)

The overall objective of my research is to utilize electromagnetic theory and measurements to study the production, measurement, modeling, and interpretation of the electric and magnetic fields produced by bioelectric current sources in conducting media. There are several common threads through my research program: magnetometry, electromagnetic theory, electrophysiology, and the mathematical modeling of experimental data. A secondary objective is to apply what we have learned from this work to the analysis of the electric and magnetic properties of non-biological systems.

We are using isolated tissue and whole-animal preparations to obtain a detailed understanding of the relationship between the electric and magnetic fields from bioelectric currents could best be obtained by examining isolated electrophysiological preparations. My colleagues and I made the first measurements of the magnetic field of an isolated nerve bundle, a single nerve axon, and a single muscle fiber. We have extended our measurements to single nerve axons, skeletal muscle, and cardiac tissue preparations with the goal of elucidating the factors that govern the propagation of activation in multicellular systems. Our high resolution SQUID microscopes currently under development will be used to measure both steady and time-varying current flows in two and three-dimensional systems, and we are exploring how this system might be used to study epilepsy, cardiac arrhythmias, and growth currents.

While we are not presently conducting any studies in neuroscience, our work on optical imaging of action potentials and magnetic imaging of action potentials and magnetic imaging of action, development, and injury currents provides an excellent opportunity for fruitful collaborations with biologists and other neuroscientists. If you want to do a measurement unlike any others done at Vanderbilt, give us a call!

For more information, please visit the lab website.