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New Study: Cell Phones Speed Up Brain Reaction
IT On Line
April 8, 1999

The latest study into mobile phones and how safe they are is published today.

The long-awaited scientific study is believed to have found that use of mobile phones increases the speed at which the brain works, and speeds up our reaction times.

The industry is likely to seize upon that – but there’s skepticism about the science methods used.

Investigators carried out standard psychological tests on volunteers using mobile phones. Mental efficiency tests carried out showed no negative effects on memory, spatial awareness or attention.

It was noted that volunteers became much quicker in their reaction times. It is thought that their improved times derive from a heating effect on an area of the brain behind the ear which controls speech and vision.

However, it was not all good news. Researchers are now trying to determine whether the unexplained heating of parts of the brain during the use of a mobile phone could have negative effects.

Mobile phones emit microwaves similar to those produced in a microwave oven, just on a much lower level. Researchers at Bristol University now want to find out whether the heating of the brain is caused by those waves.

Should the heating not be caused by the microwaves transmissions scientists need to make sure that there are no adverse reactions in the brain, such as the creation of heat shock proteins. Heat shock proteins are a normal reaction of the body, but it is thought they might be harmful when the body is subjected to then on a long-term basis.

Project leader Dr Alan Preece says he suspects the heating is only mild, but he needs to conduct more tests. He explained: “The body’s own electrical mechanism operates at too low a frequency to be linked in any way with phone transmissions.

“The only proven effect is heat production and I believe that the amount of radiation reaching the brain could be somewhat more than that estimated by existing models of mobile phone interaction. It means that there is a need to assess that interaction very carefully indeed.”

Dr Preece’s research was carried after several health controversies surrounding mobile phones, including the claim that the usage of such phones causes brain tumors.

The Federation of the Electronic Industry (FEI) welcomed the publication and said: “There is nothing in this research which leads FEI to alter its belief that, based on the weight of scientific evidence, the use of mobile phones does not pose a risk to human health.”

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