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Neuron Science

Electrical signals in neurons are not transmitted the same way electrical signals that travel along wires are nor do they have a source of electricity being fed into them. Instead each neuron creates its own electrical charge. Every time one of these electrical signals reach the end of a neuron, chemicals are released that tell the surrounding neurons to create their own electrical signals. These signals are called “action potentials” and when a neuron creates one it is said to have “fired”.

It is possible for atoms and molecules to have a positive or negative charge, these charged particles are known as ions; positive and negative ions want to be paired together like the positive and negative poles of two magnets. When no signal is being transmitted a neuron uses pumps to move positive ions outside of the cell. These pumps require a great deal of energy because the positive ions want to go back into the now negatively charged cell. The energy required to power these pumps comes from ATP, the same molecule that carries energy to muscles throughout the body.

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can only change forms but cannot be created or destroyed. The energy used to power the pumps becomes stored as the charge differential between the inside and outside of the cell. When that differential is removed by the flow of positive ions into the cell, the stored energy is released in the form of small waves. Like little waves combining to create big waves in the ocean, as thousands of neurons fire, the little waves come together to create the larger waves knows as brain waves. It is these dominant brainwaves that are measured by NeuroSky devices.