Cellphone exposure linked to changes in brain activity

Handset radiation can alter brain function


US researchers have shown that less than an hour of cellphone use can significantly speed up activity in the part of the brain closest to the handset antenna, a finding that could reignite the debate over the health effects of radiation emitted by the ubiquitous devices.

In a study published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and reported by The New York Times, researchers from the National Institutes of Health found that just 50 minutes of cellphone use was accompanied by a seven-per-cent increase in activity in the part of the brain closest to the antenna.

Researchers said the increase was unlikely to be associated with heat from the handset because the activity occurred near the antenna, rather than where the phone touched the head. The scientists also discounted the likelihood of auditory stimulation from the phone. Each of the 47 study participants were subjected to two separate exposures, one with the cellphones turned off and the other with the muted phone receiving a call from a recorded message.

As the subjects touched the phones to their ears, they underwent PET, or positron emission tomography, scans, which measure brain glucose metabolism, a marker of brain activity.

“The study is important because it documents that the human brain is sensitive to the electromagnetic radiation that is emitted by cellphones,” Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told the NYT. “It also highlights the importance of doing studies to address the question of whether there are – or are not – long-lasting consequences of repeated stimulation, of getting exposed over five, 10 or 15 years.”

The study is among the first and biggest to document that the weak radio frequency signals from handsets have the potential to change brain function. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • GPL legal battle: Vizio told by judge it will have to answer breach-of-contract claims
    Fine-print crucially deemed contractual agreement as well as copyright license in smartTV source-code case

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) has won a significant legal victory in its ongoing effort to force Vizio to publish the source code of its SmartCast TV software, which is said to contain GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 copyleft-licensed components.

    SFC sued Vizio, claiming it was in breach of contract by failing to obey the terms of the GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 licenses that require source code to be made public when certain conditions are met, and sought declaratory relief on behalf of Vizio TV owners. SFC wanted its breach-of-contract arguments to be heard by the Orange County Superior Court in California, though Vizio kicked the matter up to the district court level in central California where it hoped to avoid the contract issue and defend its corner using just federal copyright law.

    On Friday, Federal District Judge Josephine Staton sided with SFC and granted its motion to send its lawsuit back to superior court. To do so, Judge Staton had to decide whether or not the federal Copyright Act preempted the SFC's breach-of-contract allegations; in the end, she decided it didn't.

    Continue reading
  • US brings first-of-its-kind criminal charges of Bitcoin-based sanctions-busting
    Citizen allegedly moved $10m-plus in BTC into banned nation

    US prosecutors have accused an American citizen of illegally funneling more than $10 million in Bitcoin into an economically sanctioned country.

    It's said the resulting criminal charges of sanctions busting through the use of cryptocurrency are the first of their kind to be brought in the US.

    Under the United States' International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEA), it is illegal for a citizen or institution within the US to transfer funds, directly or indirectly, to a sanctioned country, such as Iran, Cuba, North Korea, or Russia. If there is evidence the IEEA was willfully violated, a criminal case should follow. If an individual or financial exchange was unwittingly involved in evading sanctions, they may be subject to civil action. 

    Continue reading
  • Meta hires network chip guru from Intel: What does this mean for future silicon?
    Why be a customer when you can develop your own custom semiconductors

    Analysis Here's something that should raise eyebrows in the datacenter world: Facebook parent company Meta has hired a veteran networking chip engineer from Intel to lead silicon design efforts in the internet giant's infrastructure hardware engineering group.

    Jon Dama started as director of silicon in May for Meta's infrastructure hardware group, a role that has him "responsible for several design teams innovating the datacenter for scale," according to his LinkedIn profile. In a blurb, Dama indicated that a team is already in place at Meta, and he hopes to "scale the next several doublings of data processing" with them.

    Though we couldn't confirm it, we think it's likely that Dama is reporting to Alexis Bjorlin, Meta's vice president of infrastructure hardware who previously worked with Dama when she was general manager of Intel's Connectivity group before serving a two-year stint at Broadcom.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022