Mobile phone emissions and human brain excitability

Cell phone emissions excite the brain cortex

Public release date: 26-Jun-2006

Contact: Amy Molnar amolnar@wiley.com
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Findings may have implications for patients with some neurological conditions Electromagnetic fields from cell phones excite the brain cortex adjacent to it, with potential implications for individuals with epilepsy, or other neurological conditions. This finding is published in Annals of Neurology, a journal by John Wiley & Sons. The article is also available online via Wiley Interscience
http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/ana .

More than 500 million people in the world use cell phones which 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 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 cell phone. Their study reports the effects of EMF exposure on brain physiology for the first time.

The 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 Evoked Potentials (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.

"It 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."

Article: "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).



Cell Phones Found to Activate Brain Areas


Cell phone signals excite brain

The weblog version of this message is at:

Following on from the last message (#498) about the research by Professor Con Stough, from the Brain Sciences Institute at Melbourne’s Swinburne University, below is the latest from Italy, also finding an effect on brain function from cell phone use. This time finding that microwaves excite part of the brain but the researchers are hesitant to call this is an adverse effect. Such hesitancy is understandable as the cell phone industry is now the major funder of cell phone research. Say you found an adverse effect and watch your future funding dry up faster than a rain drop in the Sahara. Conversely, to suggest that there may be a beneficial effect is like money in the bank. The Dutch Health Council knows how it works.

Is there any evidence that artifically exciting the brain may have long tern adverse health effects?

One does not have to look far to find ample evidence that artifically stimulating the brain can have long term health consequences. Take methamphetamine (”speed”) for example. Quite effective in cranking up the brain but the brain quickly becomes addicted to the extra buzz with disasterous long tern effects. A common fact with taking stimulates (ahhh coffee!) is that they can become addictive. So if research shows cell phone use to have a stimulant effect on the brain perhaps there is an addictive effect as well?

A case in point from my files is that of a woman in Melbourne who first noticed headaches after purchasing her first GSM cell phone. The headaches became progressively worse and debilitating so she had to consult with her GP and a specialist who sent her off for a series of brain scans for a possible brain tumour. No tumour was found but the meninges layer under the scull at the position beneath where the phone was held was clearly inflamed as seen on the scans. Her GP then wrote to Telstra with a request to release the woman from her contract as her cell phone use was the most likely cause of the inflamination and headaches. The woman ceased using her cell phone but reported having withdraw like symptoms for some weeks afterwords.

Don Maisch

From Robert Riedlinger:

Cell phone signals excite brain, study finds

Mon Jun 26, 2006 12:30am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cell phone emissions excite the part of the brain cortex nearest to the phone, but it is not clear if these effects are harmful, Italian researchers reported on Monday.

Their study, published in the Annals of Neurology, adds to a growing body of research about mobile phones, their possible effects on the brain, and whether there is any link to cancer.

About 730 million cell phones are expected to be sold this year, according to industry estimates, and nearly 2 billion people around the world already use them.

Of these, more than 500 million use a type that emits electromagnetic fields known as Global System for Mobile communications or GSM radio phones. Their possible effects on the brain are controversial and not well understood.

Dr. Paolo Rossini of Fatebenefratelli hospital in Milan and colleagues used Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS to check brain function while people used these phones.

They had 15 young male volunteers use a GSM 900 cell phone for 45 minutes. In 12 of the 15, the cells in the motor cortex adjacent to the cell phone showed excitability during phone use but returned to normal within an hour.

The cortex is the outside layer of the brain and the motor cortex is known as the “excitable area” because magnetic stimulation has been shown to cause a muscle twitch.

The researchers stressed that they had not shown that using a cell phone is bad for the brain in any way, but people with conditions such as epilepsy, linked with brain cell excitability, could potentially be affected.

“It should be argued that long-lasting and repeated exposure to EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) linked with intense use of cellular phones in daily life might be harmful or beneficial in brain-diseased subjects,” they wrote “Further studies are needed to better circumstantiate these conditions and to provide safe rules for the use of this increasingly more widespread device.”

Medical studies on cell phone use have provided mixed results. Swedish researchers found last year that using cell phones over time can raise the risk of brain tumors. But a study by Japan’s four mobile telephone operators found no evidence that radio waves from the phones harmed cells or DNA.

The Dutch Health Council analyzed several studies and found no evidence that radiation from mobile phones was harmful.


Mobile Phones Excite the Human Brain - Study

Cellular phones do affect brain cells, finds study

How mobile phones excite for your brain


Cell phone signals impact brain physiology

See above link to short cell phone and brain physiology. It looks like the only article on the site regarding this technology.


From Mast Sanity/Mast Network


The Spin Begins: Reporting the Italian cell phone study

Iris Atzmon send this story on. Note where the Italian researchers apparently suggest cell phone use “could possibly help if you suffer from migraines or other neurological disorders”. Helpful news for people troubled by headaches after using the cell phone. Why such bizarre statements from researchers who should know better? Don’t they read the relevant literature? I’m sure the Russian RNCNIRP and their Academy of Sciences will have a laugh at this one. They specifically advise that people with neurological conditions should NOT use a cell phone.

Why make such dismissive statements that are a godsend for the cell phone industry’s media spin doctors? Perhaps someone should inquire as to who funded this study……

However, note J. Fellows and E. John’s warnings about implications for children using cell phones at the end. Disney and Motorola take note….

Don Maisch

Read further under: http://www.emfacts.com/weblog/index.php?p=503


Funding the Italian cell phone study

From David Bücher [re: last message]

Dear Don,

“Perhaps someone should inquire as to who funded this study……”

Easily done, see

The Acknowledgements section from the full text article:

“The research was granted by Telecom Italia Mobile (project EC7305) and Associazione Fatebenefratelli per la Ricerca.

We thank E. Fusco and G. Pietrobono for their help with the experiments and Eng. D. Ponzo for technical support. We also thank Motorola GmbH, Corporate Technology, Niederkassel-Mondorf (Germany) for supplying the equipment. SAR and field measurements were performed by the Bioelectromagnetic Group at the Department of Electronic Engineering (University of Rome La Sapienza) and by the Section of Environmental Toxicology and Biomedical Sciences, Laboratory of Bioelectromagnetism (ENEA Casaccia, Rome).”

Best regards,

David Bücher



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