Mobile phone radiation excites brain cortex
Electromagnetic fields from mobile phones excite the brain cortex nearby,
with potential implications for people with epilepsy or other neurological
conditions, according to an article in the Annals of Neurology.
Researchers in Italy, led by Paolo M. Rossini, M.D., Ph.D. of
Fatebenefratelli, used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to
investigate brain function under exposure to electromagnetic fields from a
common type of mobile phone. Their study reports the effects of EMF exposure
on brain physiology for the first time.
More than 500 million people in
the world use cell phones that emit electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Though
many studies have looked at the effects of EMFs on the body, few have
focused on their effects on the brain. Such effects could be harmful,
neutral, or beneficial and might be particularly important for individuals
with conditions involving cortical excitability, such as epilepsy.
researchers developed a double-blind study in which 15 young male volunteers
were exposed to EMF signals from a GSM 900 cell phone for 45 minutes. They
measured motor evokedpotentials (MEPs) during motor cortex TMS before, and
immediately after EMF exposure, and also one hour later.
In 12 of the 15
subjects, the data showed an excitability change in the motor cortex
adjacent to the cell phone. "Intracortical excitability was significantly
modified, short intracortical inhibition was reduced and facilitation
enhanced," the authors report. They found that the effects of the EMF were
transient and the subjects' brains tended to return toward baseline
conditions one hour after the exposure.
It would be premature to presume
that this work implies that using a cell phone is bad for the brain in any
way. Much more work needs to be done to understand whether these electrical
changes in the brain make any difference whatsoever in the way we think or
in any disease process in which cortical excitability is affected.
should be argued that long-lasting and repeated exposure to EMFs linked with
intense use of cellular phones in daily life might be harmful or beneficial
in brain-diseased subjects," they conclude. "Further studies are needed to
better circumstantiate these conditions and to provide safe rules for the
use of this increasingly more widespread device."
"Mobile phone emissions and human brain excitability." Ferreri, Florinda;
Curcio, Giuseppe; Pasqualetti, Patrizio; De Gennaro, Luigi; Fini, Rita;
Rossini, Paolo. Annals of Neurology; July 2006; (DOI: 10.1002/ana.20906 ).