September 2000

Another study on brain function

Previous items in "What's New" (May and July, 2000) have discussed studies by Finnish researchers on RF exposure and brain function. This group has published another study that suggests that RF fields affected performance of memory tasks. As with previous studies, the RF fields appeared to facilitate rather than disrupt performance. The effects were small and the authors state that the effect "probably has no practical implications for performance in daily life". The physiological mechanism is still not understood. For more details, see "Research - Clinical - cognitive function".

Reference: Koivisto M, Krause CM, Revonsuo A, Laine M, Hamalainen H. The effects of electromagnetic field emitted by GSM phones on working memory. NeuroReport 2000;11:1641-1643.

And another study on EEGs

A number of studies have been reported on RF exposure and EEGs, with inconsistent results. Hietanen and colleagues have reported a further study. Their results suggest that exposure to RF fields emitted by cellular phones has no abnormal effects on human EEG activity. For more details, see "Research - Clinical -EEG".

Reference: Hietanen M, Kovala T, Hamalainen A-M. Human brain activity during exposure to radiofrequency fields emitted by cellular phones. Scand J Work Environ Health 2000;26:87-92.

Report of scalp nerve abnormality with prolonged use of a cell phone

Dr. Bruce Hocking of Australia has previously suggested that some cellular phone users can develop symptoms on the side of the head where they use their phone. He now reports a case of a 72-year-old man who, after two mobile phone calls of nearly an hour each on consecutive days, had persistent symptoms like "a bruised feeling" on his scalp, adjacent to the site where the cell phone was located. Tests of the nerves that supply sensation to the skin of the affected areas showed disturbances of the threshold for perception of sensation. The authors suggest that these findings are not due to thermal mechanisms, since the blood supply to the scalp is good and since the patient had no previous trouble despite exposure to many Australian summers.

It should be emphasised that this report is based on a single case. An assumption of a causative association would require, amongst other things, confirmation of the findings in other individuals.

Reference: Hocking B, Westerman R. Neurological abnormalities associated with mobile phone use. Occup Med 2000;50:366-368.


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