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Magnetic fields shut down speech, permit love songs (video)


You already know the strange powers of Stephin Merritt, but today we're talking about real magnetic fields. Powerful electromagnets, it turns out, can do remarkable things to the brain -- in this case, prevent a volunteer from reciting "Humpty Dumpty." The carefully directed magnets temporarily disrupt the brain's speech centers; the volunteer can still sing the rhyme using different areas of the brain, but simply can't overcome a series of stammers when trying to merely recite it. Of course, it's not all mad scientist applications: the UK team experimenting with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) thinks it can help us understand and treat migraines (as we've seen before with the Migraine Zapper), depression, and ADHD, among other ailments. But improving physical well-being doesn't make for nearly as entertaining media -- see the British inflict some involuntary quiet time in the video above.

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