High-level electromagnetic fields can disturb learning

Neuroscientists from Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum (RUB) in Germany have recently carried out a study that sheds light on the hotly debated topic of the effects of mobile phones on humans.

The study provides evidence for the first time that extremely high-powered electromagnetic fields can influence learning processes on the synaptic level within the brain, independent from other factors such as stress. However such high levels as these are not encountered during typical mobile phone use.

High-frequency electromagnetic fields (HEFs) are used in mobile phones, radio, television and cordless phones, and the electro-magnetic fields (EMFs) are able to elicit local warming of body tissues. Mobile phones are able to cause local warming by less than 0.1?, and this new study is the first to explain the effect of mobile phones on the function and structure of the brain during long-term use.

Non-thermal effects of mobile phone emitted EMFs include an increase in permeability and fluidity of cellular membranes, which can be implicated in changes in ion-channel integration and metabolism, which in turn impairs synaptic learning processes in the brain. This study effectively demonstrates whether these effects are derived from HEFs or stress, where stress is caused by the handling of the animal participants, such as placing rats into an unknown environment.

The study, carried out by scientists from the Department of Neuroanatomy and Molecular Brain Research in cooperation with the Chair of Electromagnetic Theory of the University of Wuppertal, involved placing rats into differently powered non-thermal HEFs in the operating range of the ‘third-generation’ mobile phones. Synaptic learning and memory formation were analysed by electrophysiological methods, and all the animals were tested for stress hormone release immediately after the exposure to HEFs.

Increases in blood derived stress hormone levels were detected in all the exposed groups. Stress clearly influences learning and memory formation on the synaptic level in the rat brain. High-powered EMFs (SAR 10W/kg) have a significant effect on learning and memory formation, but weak EMFs (SAR 0 and 2 W/kg) lead to no detectable changes or impairments.

Although these results cannot be transferred directly to humans, they do show that the neuronal mechanisms of synaptic learning are a target for high-powered EMFs. However since humans are not exposed to these levels during daily mobile phone use, there is no immediate cause for alarm. BUT in special occupational situations, for example when a human wears a body antenna system in such jobs as the security services or military personnel, the critical levels of EMFs will be reached more easily, and may have to be controlled more carefully.

Source: AlphaGalileo



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