Is it possible that human beings have a sense of direction hidden somewhere inside their brains that is attuned to the earth’s magnetic fields?

That’s the fascinating prospect raised by new research from the California Institute of Technology and Tokyo University, which found the human brain subconsciously responds to changes in the fields.

The researchers used electroencephalography to scrutinize test subjects’ brain activity while they sat in a specially built chamber, where the researchers could manipulate the magnetic field the subjects were experiencing. Researchers found a “strong, specific human brain response,” with changes in alpha-band brain activity in study participants, the study said.