EEG

The electroencephalogram (EEG) makes a scalp recording of electrical activity, or brain waves, emitted by nerve cells from the cortex of the brain. The EEG has different "bands", defined by the frequency of the waves; delta (slow) waves are less than 4 Hz; the theta bands are 4-8 Hz, the alpha from 8 to 12 Hz, the beta from about 14-30 Hz and the gamma from 30-80 Hz. The alpha bands are best seen in the parieto-occipital area, and the beta bands are usually more prominent in the frontal and central regions. These bands, when simultaneously recorded, differ from each other and reflect different cognitive processes. The alpha rhythm is best seen when the subject is awake and relaxed, with eyes closed (Emerson, 1995), and beta waves during the REM stage of sleep (see later in the section on EEG studies and sleep). Brain electrical activity is also characterized by the amplitude or power of the oscillations. An increase is called synchronization whereas a decrease in amplitude is called desynchronization. Event related desynchronization/ synchronization (ERD/ERS) stands for a technique in which the power of a specific EEG frequency band is expressed as the relative change in power between two experimental conditions. It is a within-subject measure of relative changes in power between two experimental conditions and is expressed as a percentage (Krause et al., 2004).

Cook and colleagues (2006) comment that EEG and similar methods can be more easily applied to volunteers than brain imaging methods, since there is no ionizing radiation and no strong magnetic fields. However, interference can arise from applied ELF and RF fields. They state: "The EEG electrodes and leads can act as antennas that can a) inject current into the subject's scalp and b) induce potentials on the EEG leads which have significantly greater amplitude than the brain signals being measured. Hence reliable measurements during exposure are almost impossible".

Another method is the magnetoencephalogram (MEG), which offers better spatial resolution than the EEG, but disadvantages are that the brain magnetic filed activity is very weak and the MEG is extremely sensitive to external noise.

Some EEG studies have been done while the subjects are awake and resting (Table 1). Reiser (1995) reported a change in EEG tracings on exposure to 900 MHz radiation, but others have stated that similar changes can be seen when the level of awareness is altered. Roschke and Mann (1996) found no changes in healthy male volunteers exposed to 900 MHz, and Hietanen and colleagues (2000) found no effects on EEGs from exposure to different cell phones, using both 900 and 1800 MHz. Huber (2002) found changes in the alpha range during pulse-modulated exposure, but not with continuous wave exposure. Regel (2007) had similar findings, 30 minutes after pulse-modulated exposure, but not with continuous exposure. Croft (2002) found that EMF exposure decreased 1-4 Hz activity in right hemisphere sites, and was associated with increasing 8-12 Hz activity as a function of exposure duration in the midline posterior sites. Cook (2004) suggested that 30% of the variation in alpha activity seen in their study were due to the pulsed magnetic field exposure. Kramareko (2003) used a telemetric EEG, and found that within 20-40 seconds of exposure to a 900 MHz phone signal subjects showed slow-wave activity in the contralateral frontal and temporal areas. They lasted for one second and repeated every 15-20 seconds. When the signal was stopped the slow waves progressively disappeared in the next 10 minutes. Hinrikus (2004) found changes in alpha rhythm in some subjects, but there were no statistically significant changes in the exposed state when compared with sham exposure. The same authors (Hinrikus 2007) found an increase in alpha and beta power when subjects were exposed to 450 MHz RFR .

Authors
Subjects
Exposure
Experiment
Effects of EMF
Reiser Dimpfel, Schobel, '95

(Linden, Germany)
36 volunteers, 18 men.

Also sham. Single blindn
902 MHz, pulse modulated at 217 Hz EEG recorded for 1 hr.
EMF exposure during second 15 minute period
Increase in EEG power in alpha2, beta1, and beta2 during and after exposure.
Significant only in beta1.
Roschke, Mann, '97

(Mainz, Germany)
27 healthy males.

Also sham.
Randomized
Single blind
900 MHz
Power density 0.05mW/cm, at 40 cm from top of head
EEG at 9am - 12.
For 10 minute on two occasions, separated by 30 minutes
No differences in spectral power densities in EEGs
Hietanen, Kovala, et al '00

(Helsinki, Finland)
19 healthy volunteers, 9 women.

Also sham. Randomized
5 types of phone used: Three 900MHz NMT; one 900MHz digital GSM; one 1800 MHz digital PCN.

Each for 20 minutes, 1 cm from head.

Peak power 1-2 W. SAR ~ 0.8W/kg
EEG while awake Of 180 statistical tests, only one significant difference in absolute, but not in relative, power
Huber et al. '02 16 healthy males. 900 MHz, pulse-modulated (pm) or continuous wave (cw), for 30 minutes at 22.30 hrs.
Also sham. Double-blind.
EEG at 23.00 hrs. Recorded for 8 hrs. Power increased in the alpha range in awake state.
Seen in pm exposure, but not in cw
Croft, Chandler, et al. '02 24 subjects (16 male) 900 MHz phone in listening mode. Estimated average power 3-4 mW. Single-blind. Also performed an auditory discrimination task. EEG performed at rest and then during an auditory task. Sham exposure used. Decreased 1-4 Hz activity in right hemisphere. Also increased 8-12 Hz activity as a function of exposure duration in midline posterior sites.
Curcio et al. '05 20 subjects (10 male) 900 MHz, pulse-modulated (SAR~0.5W/kg), for 45 minutes. Double-blind. Also sham - randomized. EEG at rest. In one group of 10 recording after exposure. In other group during last 5 minutes of exposure. Spectral power greater at 9 and 10 Hz in alpha range. Effect greater when EMF on during the EEG recording .
Regel et al., '07 24 healthy males 900 MHz pm or cw , for 30 minutes over left hemisphere. Double-blind, randomized, crossover design, with sham. EEG at 0, 30, and 60 minutes after exposure. Enhanced alpha power at 10-11 Hz and at 12 Hz, 30 minutes after pm exposure.

Hinrikus '07

13 subjects
(4 male)

450 MHz pulse-modulated at 7, 14, and 21 Hz. Double-blind and randomized, with sham. Two sets of recording for both exposure and sham.

EEG at rest. Two five-cycle (1 min off and 1 min on) series.

Increase in alpha and beta power in first 30 sec of exposure period at modulation frequencies 14 and 21 Hz.


Table 1 EEGs on exposure to radiofrequencies while awake

The normal EEG pattern varies in the two stages of sleep. Beta waves are wmore prominent in the rapid eye movement stage (REM) that is considered to be associated with information processing. The non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stage is associated with delta and theta waves. The two stages last about 90 minutes and are repeated approximately five times per night.

Some studies have examined the effect of RF radiation on sleeping subjects (Table 2). Wagner (1998, 2000) could not replicate their earlier finding (1996) of a REM suppressive effect and EEG alterations in healthy male volunteers, exposed to a 900 MHz EM field. Borbely (1999) found a slight reduction in the duration of waking, after sleep onset had occurred. The same group also reported that exposure to EMF for 30 minutes before sleep altered EEG patterns during subsequent sleep (Huber, 2000). However, they found no difference in sleep onset latency or sleep stages, or in waking after sleep onset. They found similar results in a 2002 study, although on this occasion the changes were seen only with a pulse-modulated signal. Lebedeva et al. (2001) found an increase in the alpha-range power density and in the relation of sleep changes, but they give few details of the EMF exposure used in their experiment. Loughran (2005) found a decrease in REM sleep latency. This publication also reported an increase in spectral power in the alpha range, during the initial part of sleep following exposure. Other groups also reported this finding, as is indicated in Table 2. However, Hung (2007) tested their study subjects with exposure to a cell phone in "talk", "listen", "standby", and "sham" modes, and found that after "talk" mode, there was a significant delay in sleep latency compared with "listen" and "sham" modes. In "talk" mode there is a higher SAR rating and both 8 and 217 Hz components.

Authors
Subjects
Exposure
Experiment
Effects of EMF
Mann, Roschke '96

(Mainz, Germany)
12 healthy males.

Also sham one night.

Randomized
Double blind.
900 MHz from 11pm to 7am,.
Phone at head of bed, 40 cm from top of head
Power density 0.05mW/cm
EEG during sleep for 3 nights (first an adaptation night, then either exposure or sham) Sleep onset latency reduced
Decrease in duration and percentage of REM sleepIncrease in mean power density during REM sleep in all bands, especially alpha
Wagner, Roschke, Mann, et al '98

Mainz
24 healthy males

Controls as above
900 MHz from 11pm to 7am. Circular antenna 40 cms below pillow of bed
Power density 0.2W/mSAR 0.3W/kg at top of head, 0.6 at back of neck
As above No significant changes
Wagner, Roschke, Mann, et al '00

Mainz
20 healthy males

Controls as above
As above except power density 50 W/m.

Limiting value SAR of 2W/kg not reached
As above No significant changes
Borbely, Huber, Graf, et al '99

(Zurich)
24 healthy males

Also sham.
Randomized
Double blind
900 MHz (pulsed at 217 Hz) from 11pm to 7am, on and off at 15 minute intervals
3 antennae 30 cms. from top of headPeak SAR 1W/kg
EEG during sleep for 2 nights in two sessions 1 week apart (first night an adaptation night each week) No difference in sleep onset latency or sleep stages
Reduced duration of waking after sleep onset - only in those sham exposed in first week
Spectral power increased in first non-REM sleep in the 10-11 Hz and 13.5-14 Hz bands
Huber, Cote, et al. '00

Zurich
16 healthy males
Sleep limited to 4 hrs night before experiment
Pulsed 900 MHz for 30 mins. prior to sleep, scheduled at 9.45 or 10.15 am.

Antenna 11cms from either right or left side of head. Peak SAR 1W/kg
EEG during sleep for 3 hrs No difference in sleep onset latency or sleep stages, or in waking after sleep onsetEnhanced power density in 9.75-11.25Hz and 12.25-13.25 Hz bands in the first 30 mins. of non-REM sleep. Both hemispheres affected.
Loughran et al., 2005 50 subjects, 27 male. Double blind, crossover deign Pulsed 894.6 MHz for 30 minute prior to sleep. EEG overnight Decrease in REM sleep latency. Increase in power in alpha range in the first 30 minutes of the first non-REM period.
Fritzer et al., 2007 10 subjects, 10 controls; young adult males, RandomizedBlind Pulsed 900 MHz, throughout night, for 6 nights. Control subjects not exposed Baseline night, and then 2nd and 6th nights of exposure - EEG, EOG, and EMG No significant effects on sleep parameters
Hung et al., 2007

10 young males.
Randomized to different modes; double-blind.

Pulsed 900 MHz for 30 minutes at 13.30 h, after sleep restriction the previous night. Cell phone exposure in "Talk", "listen", "standby", or "sham" mode EEG during exposure and for 90 minutes after. Significant delay in sleep latency after "talk mode, compared wit "listen" and "sham" modes.


Table 2 EEGs on exposure to radiofrequencies during sleep

Table 3 summarizes the studies that have been done while subjects performed various tasks. Freude, Eulitz and colleagues (1998 a,b, 2000) reported some modulation of the EEG during performance of some of the tasks, but their results were inconsistent. Krause (2000) reported EEG changes in healthy volunteers exposed to an EM field of 902 MHz during performance of an auditory task, and, in a second paper, obtained similar results in subjects performing a visual memory task. However, they were not able to replicate the results in a later study (Krause, 2004). These authors in a partial replication study, found some subtle, but inconsistent effects in the alpha range (Krause, 2007). Jech (2001) found EEG changes in response to visual tasks. Papageorgiou (2004) found that baseline EEG energy was greater in males, while exposure to EMF decreased EEG energy of males and increased that of females. Additionally, in a small pilot study, Hamblin (2004) found some evidence of neural activity as a result of cell phone exposure during an auditory task. They measured event-related potentials (ERPs) and found a decrease in the amplitude and latency of a sensory component (N100) and a decrease in the latency of a later more cognitive component (P300) during active exposure. However, the same authors, in a much larger and better-designed study, found no evidence that acute cell phone exposure during auditory and visual tasks affected brain activity (Hamblin 2006). . Papageorgiou (2006) also examined ERPs in response to an auditory stimulus. They found an increase in the amplitude of the P50 component evoked by low frequency stimuli, and a decrease evoked by high frequency stimuli. However, their study used a small number of subjects and appears to have been single-blind. In another study, Hinrichs (2004) found that exposure to a GSM field did not affect memory retrieval tasks, though event-related magnetic fields, measured by a magnetoencephalogram, were affected. Krause (2006) studied the effect of EMFs from a mobile phone on EEG tracings in 15 children performing an auditory memory task. The authors found that the mobile phone signal affected the responses in the 4-8 Hz frequencies. Maby (2006) reported that when subjects were exposed to EMFs from a GSM mobile phone while receiving an auditory stimulus, there was an amplitude increase of the P 200 wave in the frontal area. Epileptic patients showed a lengthening of the N 100 component in the contralateral frontal area.

Authors
Subjects
Exposure
Experiment
Effects of EMF
Freude, Ullsperger, Eggert, Ruppe '98

(Berlin, Germany)
16 healthy males

Also sham.

Single blind
916 MHz in contact with left earSpatial peak SAR 1.42 mW/G in 1g and 0.882 mW/g in 10 g EEG during 2 tasks - finger-tapping; visual monitoring Task 1 - no effect on EEGTask 2 - decrease in slow wave potentials at right central and temporo-parietal regions
Eulitz, Ullsperger, Freude, Ruppe '98

(Berlin)
13 healthy males.

Controls as above
As above EEG during auditory discrimination task Decrease in spectral power in bands 18.75-31.25 Hz during tasks. Effects mainly in left hemisphere
Freude, et al as above '00

Berlin
Healthy males.

Controls as above
As above EEGs during 2 experiments, 6 months apart#1 - visual monitoring task (VMT)#2 same task plus 2 others - finger-tapping , and two-stimulus task No difference in performance of tasks
Slow wave potentials decreased during VMT at central, parietal-temporal-occipital positions, mainly in right hemisphere; confirmed in experiment 2.No significant effect in other 2 tasks
Krause, Sillanmaki, Koivisto et al '00

(Helsinki, Finland)
16 healthy volunteers, 8 women.

Also sham.

Single blind
902 MHz, pulsed at 217 Hz.

Antenna 20 cms from right posterior temporal region.

Mean power 0.25 W.
EEG during auditory memory task No difference in # of errors during taskIncrease in power in 8-10 Hz band at rest
Modification of EEG responses during the task in all 4 frequency bands
Krause, et al, as above '00

Helsinki
24 healthy volunteers, 12 women

Controls as above
As above EEG during visual memory task No difference in # of errors or in reaction times
EEG responses altered in 6-8 and 8-10 Hz bands during task, especially in left hemisphere
Jech, Sonka, et al '01

(Prague, Czech)
17 subjects, narcolepsy.

Also sham

Double blind
900 MHz, pulsed at 217 Hz.
Phone at right ear. SAR 0.06 W/kg
EEG during visual task EEG changes mainly in right hemisphere when target stimulus was in right hemifield of the test screen. Response reaction time was reduced by 20 ms.
Krause et al '04 24 healthy subjects. Double blind 902 MHz, pulsed. Phone at left ear. SAR 0.648 W/kg EEG during auditory memory task (as above) EMF increased errors. Decreased magnitude of ERS responses in the 4-6 Hz frequency. Also in the 6-8 Hz band, but only in left hemisphere.
Papageorgiou '04 19 subjects, 9 men 900 MHz EEG during memory task Baseline EEG energy greater in males. RF exposure decreased EEG energy in males, increased it in females
Papageorgiou '06
19 subjects. Single blind
900 MHz.
EEG during auditory task
Increase in amplitude of ERPs (P50) with low frequency stimuli, and decrease with high frequency
Hamblin ‘06
120 subjects. Double blind
900 MHz. SAR 0.11 W/kg
EEG during auditory and visual tasks
No difference from sham exposure in N100 and P300 components of ERPs
Krause '06

 

15 children, aged 10-14 yrs
902 MHz
EEG during memory task
RFR exposure modulated the EEG responses during memory encoding in the 4-8 Hz frequency , and in the 4-8 and 15 Hz frequency during recognition
Maby ‘06
9 healthy subjects, 6 epileptic patients
900/1800 MHz
EEG while auditory stimulus received
Longer N100 component in contralateral frontal area in the epileptic patients. Amplitude increase in the P200 wave in frontal area of healthy subjects.
Krause '07 36 subjects in each experiment. Double-blind 902 MHz, continuous wave (CW) and pulse modified (PM). Each hemisphere exposed separately. EEG during auditory and visual memory tasks "Modest", but inconsistent, effects on oscillatory responses in the 8-12 Hz range, This even happened in sham exposure - differences between the 2 hemispheres.


Table 3. EEGs on exposure to radiofrequencies during task performance

Yuasa (2006) reported that 30 minutes of cell phone use had no effect on the human sensory cortex, measured by somatosensory evoked potentials from the hand sensory area of the right hemisphere after left median nerve stimulation. The same group (Inomata-Terada 2007) measured motor evoked potentials in the human cortex , brain stem, and spinal nerve elicited by transcranial magnetic stimulation, before and after 30 minutes exposure to RFR from a cell phone. No effect was seen from the RFR exposure.

Two other studies examined the effect of a therapy, Low Energy Emission Therapy, on EEGs and sleep patterns. This therapy employs frequencies in the radiofrequency range but they are much lower than those in the cell phone frequency range. The therapy, which is used to treat sleep disturbances, involves the emission of 27.12 MHz, amplitude-modulated at 42.7 Hz by means of an electrically conducting mouthpiece in direct contact with the lining of the mouth. The estimated peak SAR on the lining of the mouth is <10 W/kg and in brain tissue the SAR was calculated as being between 0.1 and 100 mW/kg. These latter measurements are within the limits outlined in Safety Code 6.

D'Andrea, Chou, Johnston, and Adair (2003) reviewed the research done on EEGs in humans exposed to RFR and stated that "…no conclusions can be drawn from the present EEG-EMG research". They point out that most studies have not been replicated, suffer from poor dosimetry, have inadequate measurement of SAR distribution in the head, and have limited details about exposure.

Cook, Saucier, Thomas, and Prato (2006), in a review of papers published between 2001 and 2005, state:


"...the evidence suggests that brief exposures can induce measurable changes in human brain electrical activity, particularly in the alpha frequency range (8-13 Hz) over posterior regions of the scalp. This observation was also noted by Hamblin and Wood (2002) in their review on mobile phone effects on EEG and sleep variables. Interestingly, this effect was also noted in several ELF studies as well (Cooket al., 2004,2005; Ghione et al., 2005), suggesting that this observation may be a non-specific response to intermittent stimulation of pulsed fields, as continuously presented ELF fields (Lyskov et al., 1993; Crasson and Legros, 2005) do not tend to elicit the same effect".

 

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Acute mobile phone operation affects neural function in humans
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Effects of 2G and 3G mobile phones on human alpha rhythms: Resting EEG in adolescents, young adults, and the elderly.
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Authors
Eulitz C, Ullsperger P, Freude G, Elbert T.
Title
Mobile phones modulate response patterns of human brain activity.
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Authors
Freude G, Ullsperger P, Eggert S, Ruppe I.
Title
Effects of microwaves emitted by cellular phones on human slow brain potentials.
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Bioelectromagnetics 1998;19:384 - 7.
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Authors
Freude G, Ullsperger P, Eggert S, Ruppe I.
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Microwaves emitted by cellular telephones affect human slow brain potentials.
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European Journal of Applied Physiology 2000; 81:18 - 27
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Authors
Fritzer G, Goder R, Friege L, Wachter J et al.
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Effects of short- and long-term pulsed radiofrequency electromagnetic fields on night sleep and cognitive functions in healthy subjects.
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Authors
Hamblin D, Wood AW, Croft RJ, Stough C
Title
Examining the effects of electromagnetic fields emitted by GSM phones on human event-related potentials and performance during an auditory task
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Authors
Hamblin D, Croft RJ, Wood AW, Stough C, et al.
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The sensitivity of human event-related potentials and reaction time to mobile phone emitted electromagnetic fields.
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Bioelectromagnetics 2006;27:265-273.
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Authors
Hietanen M, Kovala T, Hamalainen A-M.
Title
Human brain activity during exposure to radiofrequency fields emitted by cellular phones
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Authors

Hinrichs H, Heinze H-J.
Title
Effects of GSM electromagnetic field on the MEG during an encoding-retrieval task.
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Neuroreport 2004;15:1191-1194.
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Authors
Hinrikus H, Bachmann M, Lass J, Tomson R, et al.
Title
Effect of 7, 14, and 21 Hz modulated 450 MHz microwave radiation on human electroencephalographic rhythms.
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Huber R, Graf T, Cote KA, Wittman L, et al.
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Exposure to pulsed high-frequency electromagnetic field during waking affects human sleep EEG.
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Huber R, Treyer V, Borbely AA, Schuderer J, et al.
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Electromagnetic fields, such as those from mobile phones, alter regional cerebral blood flow and sleep and waking EEG.
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Inomata-Terada S, Okabe S, Arai N, Hanajima R,et al.
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Electromagnetic field of mobile phone affects visual event related potential in patients with narcolepsy.
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Bioelectromagnetics 2001;22:519-528.
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Authors
Kleinlogel H, Dierks T, Koenig T, Lehmann H,  Minder A, Berz R.
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Effects of weak mobile Phone - Electromagnetic fields (GSM, UMTS) on well-being and resting EEG
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Effects of electromagnetic field emitted by cellular phones on the EEG during a memory task.
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Authors
Wagner P, Röschke J, Mann K, Fell J, et al.
Title
Human sleep EEG under the influence of pulsed radiofrequency electromagnetic fields
Journal
Neuropsychobiology 2000;42:207-212
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Authors
Yuasa K, Asai N, Okabe S, Tarusawa Y, et al.
Title
Effects of thirty minutes mobile phone use on the human sensory cortex.
Journal
Clin Neurophysiol 2006;117:900-905.
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