Mobile phone users show slowed brain activity
1 October 2007
Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Frequent mobile phone use
slows brain function, according to a recent study published in the
International Journal of Neuroscience.
The study also found, however, that frequent mobile phone users showed
better focused attention, which can be explained as a learning effect
related to making more phone calls in distractive surroundings.
conclusions can be drawn as to whether these effects are to be considered an
adverse health effect or not, but data have already been collected from more
than 20,000 people to replicate this study and further investigate the
adverse health effects.
This study was carried out by researchers from
Brainclinics Diagnostics and the Radboud University department of Biological
Psychology both from Nijmegen, the Netherlands, the Institute of Psychiatry,
London and the Brain Resource Company Ltd, Sydney.
Earlier studies have
mostly investigated the acute effects of mobile phone use on brain function.
However, this study employed an epidemiological approach to investigate the
long-term effects of mobile phone use on brain function.
In this study, data was used from 300 people of which 100 were 'frequent
mobile phone users', 100 'non-mobile phone users' and an 'intermediate
group' of 100 people. Differences in brain activity (measured using
quantative EEG), neuropsychological functions such as attention, memory and
executive function and personality traits were assessed.
The results show that frequent mobile phone users score higher on
extraversion — thought to be more likely a cause rather then an effect — and
also showed improved focused attention. This was explained by a learning
effect due to making more phone calls in busy environments, whereby people
learn to focus better on the phone call and filter out irrelevant
However, the brain activity from frequent mobile phone users shows more
slow activity (increased Delta and Theta) and a slowing of the Alpha Peak
Frequency interpreted as a general slowing of brain activity.
These effects could not be explained by the differences in personality
and focused attention. "In Alzheimer's dementia you also find a severely
slowing of brain activity. However, the slowing found in this study, with
mobile phone users, can still be considered within 'normal' limits," said
Martijn Arns, the main investigator. "The frequent mobile phone user group
used their mobile phone — at the time of data collection — only 2.4 years on
average, which can currently be considered as a short time. Therefore, it is
to be further investigated whether the observed effects in this study are
more severe with prolonged mobile phone use."
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