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New Research: Mobile Phone EMF Alters Brainwaves in Healthy Individuals

PDF: Meer_et_al-2023-Scientific_Reports

This research study, conducted by Johan N. van der Meer and colleagues, explores the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) from mobile phones on brainwaves in healthy volunteers. The study is significant due to the increasing presence of EMF in our environment and the ongoing debate about its potential health effects. The study used a rigorous methodology including EEG recordings from 63 electrodes across different brain regions, a Bayesian statistical approach for robust analysis, and a controlled experimental design to mitigate confounding factors.

The study involved 32 participants divided into two groups, subjected to EMF and sham conditions in a double-blinded crossover design. The primary focus was on changes in alpha band power density in the eyes open condition. The findings showed statistical evidence for the presence of an EMF effect in this band.

The study’s significance lies in its meticulous approach to addressing previous methodological shortcomings in EMF research. By using a controlled environment to minimize background EMF and an accurate measurement of EMF exposure, the study provides reliable evidence of the effects of EMF on brain activity. The use of a Bayesian statistical approach adds robustness to the findings.

The results indicate a subtle but measurable impact of EMF on brain activity, particularly in the alpha band during eyes open conditions. This finding is crucial as it contributes to the ongoing discussion about the safety of EMF exposure, especially with the introduction of newer technologies like 5G.

This study represents a significant step in understanding the biological effects of EMF exposure. It provides a foundation for future research on the subject, particularly in assessing the impact of different types of EMF, such as those from 5G networks.

The study by Johan N. van der Meer and colleagues aimed to assess the impact of electromagnetic fields (EMF) from mobile phones on brainwaves, specifically focusing on changes in the alpha band power density of brainwaves as measured by EEG. Here’s a summary of their findings and the power levels they studied:

  1. Study Design and Groups: The study included 32 healthy participants, divided into two groups in a double-blinded, crossover counterbalanced design. The participants underwent EEG recordings with 63 electrodes across six brain regions.
  2. Experimental Protocol: Participants were exposed to two 18-minute sessions of alternating blocks of eyes open (EO) and eyes closed (EC) conditions. Group 1 received EMF exposure in the first session and a sham (placebo) exposure in the second session, while Group 2 had the reverse order.
  3. EMF Exposure and Power Levels: The study utilized a controlled EMF exposure setup, with significant efforts to measure and control the EMF dosage. The EMF was delivered using GSM antennas, with a specific focus on the conventional 2G (GSM) protocol that operates at a carrier frequency of 900 MHz. The power density levels at the volunteer’s location during EMF exposure were comparable to those near a mobile phone during a call, but significantly lower than typical values in a public space. Unfortunately, the exact power density measurements in µW/m² or dBm are not provided in the summary, but it’s noted that the levels were carefully measured and controlled.
  4. Results – Alpha Band Power Density: The Bayesian statistical analysis revealed a statistically significant effect of EMF exposure on alpha band power density during the eyes open condition. The study specifically found an increase in alpha power during EMF exposure compared to the sham condition.
  5. Interpretation: The increase in alpha power suggests a subtle but measurable effect of EMF on brain activity. Alpha waves are typically associated with a relaxed but awake state and are most prominent when the eyes are closed. The observed increase during EMF exposure indicates a potential change in brain state due to EMF.
  6. Conclusion: The study provides evidence that EMF exposure at levels similar to those encountered during mobile phone use can affect brain activity, particularly in the alpha frequency band. This contributes to the broader discussion on the safety of EMF exposure from mobile phones and other devices.

The significance of this study lies in its rigorous design and the careful control and measurement of EMF exposure, providing more reliable evidence than many previous studies in this area. However, the exact health implications of these changes in brain activity are not yet fully understood and warrant further investigation.

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