Exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) from mobile phone signals and effects on human brain activity and neurobehavioral performance
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During the last decades mobile phone use has been rapidly growing. In parallel public concerns about potential adverse outcomes of mobile phone use and exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) has also increased. Effects on human neurophysiological functioning are one of the areas of interest in this research field. This thesis attempts to present an overview of literature on neurophysiological effects related to EMF-RF exposure from mobile phone signals, with special attention to children who are suggested to be a specific sensitive group with regard to RF-EMF exposure. Small alterations of alpha frequency spectral power on the EEG are consistently found for resting, sleep and EEG during cognitive processing, both during and after exposure to RF-EMF signals resembling GSM phone use. On neurobehavioral performance measures, rather inconstant results are published. The amount and quality of experimental studies including children is too limited to conclude that children are indeed more susceptible to EMF-RF exposure from GSM phone signals. The small changes in brain oscillatory responses found during and after acute exposure to RF-EMF signals do not seem to be associated with comparable changes in behavioral performance measures. The clinical significance of these small changes in brain activity is difficult to determine. It can be concluded that acute RF-EMF exposure to the head, resembling GSM phone signals, is unlikely to affect human cognitive functioning. However, as only acute responses to relatively short RF-EMF exposures were investigated in laboratory settings, no information is present on potential long-term effects of (cumulative) RF-EMF exposure. If cumulative effects of RF-EMF exist, children should be considered to be a more vulnerable group at increased risk as their brain and central nervous system (CNS) are still in development and their skull is relatively thin. Therefore, future research should focus on potential long-term, cumulative effects of RF-EMF exposure and experimental studies should give more attention to potential mechanisms behind RF-EMF interaction with biological systems, improve the study designs and use standardized methodology.