Niave question about the medium of conduction of electric current (AC) in the body

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Donnard White
Donnard White's picture
Niave question about the medium of conduction of electric current (AC) in the body

I am trying to get some background for some personal research I am doing into the effects of Electro Convulsive Therapy. I don't understand how electric current from an external household source, say, flows through the body. There are no naturally occurring chains of metal atoms in the body, so it can't be electron flow, but my understanding is that the electric field around an electrode is very thin, so I can't see ion flow as accounting for electrical effects in the body at some distance from the electode - particularly with AC, as I would only expect a local oscillation. I am familiar with membrane depolarisation but that is essentially a cellular mechanism - is it (or saltatory conduction) activated by an external current? I know that the body as a whole (and cell membranes in particular) function as a dielectric, but I can't see how this fits into the global picture of current flow between two electrodes. Can anyone help or recommend me a paper?

Fraser Moss
Fraser Moss's picture
A paper for you

Eplasty. 2009; 9: e44.Published online 2009 Oct 12.PMCID: PMC2763825PMID: 19907637Conduction of Electrical Current to and Through the Human Body: A ReviewRaymond M. Fish, PhD, MD, FACEPa and Leslie A. Geddes, MS, PhD, DScb https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763825/

Donnard White
Donnard White's picture
response to Fraser's answer

Fraser thank you so much for your trouble - it is indeed an excellent paper but one that I had already read - it does give an excellent overview in general terms (this gave me a lot of useful information too: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19212042) but still doesn't quite get to my questions as to which tissues current passes through (lowest resistance/impedance) and what form the current takes. But any suggestions welcome.