Your Brain Can Detect 3G Mobile Phone Radiation
Joel's comments: Several studies have assessed the effects of radiation from 2G, 3G and 4G mobile phones. All have found effects on cortical activity in the brain following brief exposures. Thus, current regulatory standards are inadequate to prevent these non-thermal effects on the healthy adult brain.
Does the Brain Detect 3G Mobile Phone Radiation Peaks? An Explorative In-Depth Analysis of an Experimental Study
Roggeveen S, van Os J, Lousberg R (2015) Does the Brain Detect 3G Mobile Phone Radiation Peaks? An Explorative In-Depth Analysis of an Experimental Study. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0125390. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.
This study aimed to investigate whether third generation mobile phone radiation peaks result in event related potentials.
Thirty-one healthy females participated. In this single-blind, cross-over design, a 15 minute mobile phone exposure was compared to two 15 minute sham phone conditions, one preceding and one following the exposure condition. Each participant was measured on two separate days, where mobile phone placement was varied between the ear and heart. EEG activity and radiofrequency radiation were recorded jointly. Epochs of 1200ms, starting 200ms before and lasting until 1000ms after the onset of a radiation peak, were extracted from the exposure condition. Control epochs were randomly selected from the two sham phone conditions.
The main a-priori hypothesis to be tested concerned an increase of the area in the 240-500ms post-stimulus interval, in the exposure session with ear-placement. Using multilevel regression analyses the placement*exposure interaction effect was significant for the frontal and central cortical regions, indicating that only in the mobile phone exposure with ear-placement an enlarged cortical reactivity was found. Post-hoc analyses based on visual inspection of the ERPs showed a second significantly increased area between 500-1000ms post-stimulus for almost every EEG location measured.
It was concluded that, when a dialing mobile phone is placed on the ear, its radiation, although unconsciously, is electrically detected by the brain. The question of whether or not this cortical reactivity results in a negative health outcome has to be answered in future longitudinal experiments.
Open Access Paper: http://bit.ly/1cqJdjW
.... An already known effect is that of heat transfer from mobile phones to the body [1–3], an effect which can be eliminated by the body. Next to this thermal process it is proposed that so called ‘non-thermal effects’ also take place while using a mobile phone. In short, it is thought that radio frequent electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) may act as a trigger for the cellular stress response. No working mechanisms have been proven, but it is hypothesized that protein changes take place, which in turn could ultimately lead to undesired alterations like DNA damage which in turn could lead to tumor promoting effects and increase in permeability of the Sertoli cell barrier which could lead to male infertility [4–6]. In the mean while also studies are performed which focus on the measurement of direct electrophysiological effects of exposure to mobile phone radiation. Several studies with cortical activity as the dependent variable have been performed: experiments focusing on effects in waking and sleep EEG, as well as studies assessing event related potentials (ERP). In waking EEG studies, the most consistent finding is an increase in the alpha frequency band (8–12 Hz) activity during mobile phone radiation exposure [7–9]. In sleep EEG studies an increase of the sleep spindle frequency range (12–15 Hz) in non-rapid-eye-movement sleep has been reported repeatedly [10–13]. ERP is another often applied method to study brain activity, in which cortical stimulus-processing is investigated. Most studies in the field of mobile phone research investigate whether auditory stimuli (cochlear and brainstem auditory processes) are processed differently by the brain in the presence of a mobile phone . The idea behind this hypothesized effect is that auditory organs absorb most of the radiation energy from the mobile phone in a dialing position . However, not enough evidence has been reported to conclude that the presence of an active mobile phone alters the processing of these auditory stimuli [7,16]. In 2010, Carrubba and collegues proposed that mobile phone radiation pulses (instead of auditory stimuli), can be considered as stimuli . Twenty participants were included and in 90% of the participants evoked potentials were observed at a latency of approximately 270 ms in response to mobile phone radiation pulses. Strictly speaking, this study investigated the ERP response of an unconscious/subliminal stimulus. Evidence has been reported that ERPs of subliminal stimuli have a comparable morphological structure to ERPs of supraliminal stimuli. However, the amplitudes produced by subliminal stimuli are smaller .
Recently a study was set up by our research team to investigate whether waking EEG frequency bands are influenced by mobile phone radiation . In this study, significant radiation effects were found for the alpha, slowbeta, fastbeta, and gamma bands. Interestingly, it was found that the effects depended on placement location of the mobile phone (ear versus chest), the ear placement showing larger effects compared to the chest placement.
- A 3G smartphone was used. During exposure conditions, the phone was dialed from a fixed line in another room. No sound was exchanged (mute settings), and vibration mode was off, in order to ensure that the participant could not identify the dialing condition.
- The SAR level of the phone was reported as 0.69 W/kg (head) in the manual.
- The sham phone was a non-functioning replica of the same weight and with the same characteristics as the functioning smartphone. In a pilot study before the start of the actual experiment, no evidence was found that participants could detect differences between the actual mobile phone and the sham phone.
Several studies have demonstrated altered EEG frequency bands due to the presence of an active mobile phone (7–9). However, the causal mechanisms for this effect are, to our knowledge, not yet uncovered. Supposed electromagnetic radiation causes changes in EEG activity, a dose-response relationship should be demonstrable. In the present study it was hypothesized that 3G radiation peaks, short-term elevations of electromagnetic radiation, produce an immediate change in EEG activity, compared to a ‘non-radiation’ sham phone control condition. Radiation peaks were conceptualized as non-conscious stimuli which may produce event related potentials (ERPs). In other words, the key question to be answered was whether or not a 3G radiation peak (being a subliminal stimulus) can be detected by the brain, without assuming a response typical for a supraliminal stimulus. In the experimental design subjects were both exposed to a mobile phone placed on the ear, and to a mobile phone placed on the chest. These measurements took place on two separate days. The a-priori expected effect on the post-stimulus ERFIA range of 240–500ms, was evident: Not only a clear visual effect was observed, also the placement times exposure interaction was statistically significant, meaning an increase of cortical activity, only during the ear exposure condition and only in the frontal and central regions. Although this effect is not as large, regarding the amplitude, as observed in studies investigating supraliminal stimuli, it is comparable to effects of subliminal stimuli .
In sum, this study demonstrates that non-consciously sensed radiation peaks, produced by a dialing 3G mobile phone, are detected by the brain in terms of short-term increased cortical activity. In addition, the ear placement specificity (compared to the chest) of the radiation effect on the cortex is striking. The crucial question whether or not the immediate effect of radiation on cortical activity may have an (negative) influence on health, cannot be answered yet. It would be ideal, but challenging, to perform longitudinal prospective research with differentially RF-EMF exposed groups in relation to several health outcomes. Next to EEG, transcranial magnetic stimulation might be used to test brain excitability, which has also shown changes in brain excitability due to mobile phone usage . In addition, there is scope for investigation of effects at the cellular level, especially DNA change due to radiation, which will probably become more practical with the advent of novel imaging techniques.
Center for Family and Community Health
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley
Electromagnetic Radiation Safety
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