These spheres possessed a telepathic archive which was contained in a self-sustaining energy matrix. Humanoids were affected by this matrix after the spheres were opened. In the brains of the affected humanoids, the membrane permeability of the columnar cells of the brain stem was altered. Subsequent to this change in the brain and under the influence of the matrix, the affected individuals re-enacted the ancient power struggle which destroyed the Saltah'nans.
After discovery of the spheres, the crew aboard the Toh'Kaht re-enacted the power struggle and killed themselves and destroyed their ship. Shortly before its destruction, the first officer Hon-Tihl beamed to Operations on board Deep Space 9, transferring the matrix to the staff officers. The sole individual not affected was Odo whose body, because it lacked a humanoid brain, rejected the matrix.
Shortly after, the officers began to re-enact the Saltah'na power struggle. Before they suffered the same fate as the Toh'Kaht crew, the officers were saved by Odo. Odo tricked the affected Julian Bashir into helping him by undoing the influence of the matrix by emitting an ionic interference signal using the computer program Odo One. The matrix was driven into space.
Benjamin Sisko, under the influence of the matrix, constructed a clock. Even after he was freed from the matrix, Sisko kept the clock and displayed it in his office. (DS9: "Dramatis Personae", "Hippocratic Oath")