LOS ANGELES – The electromagnetic radiation emitted by a cellular phone’s antenna appears to activate nearby regions of the brain to unusually high levels, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association that is likely to spark new concerns about the health effects of wireless devices.
The preliminary study, led by a respected neuroscientist at the National Institutes of Health, suggests that mobile phones may be altering the way we think and behave in subtle ways.
Researchers peered inside the brains of 47 healthy subjects using positron emission tomography, also known as PET scanning, to measure the location and timing of brain activity by detecting signs that cells are consuming energy. They found that despite official skepticism that cell phones’ electromagnetic energy exerts any influence on nearby cells – including statements issued by the Food and Drug Administration – it clearly does.
What the study does not suggest is that cell-phone use contributes to the development of brain cancers. While that concern is pressed adamantly by activists, a growing body of research has failed to find evidence to support it.
The study found that two areas of the brain close to the phone’s antenna – which was embedded in the mouthpiece of the phone used – showed unusual spikes in activity throughout a 50-minute period of live transmission. The researchers speculated that a cell phone with its antenna placed elsewhere – near the phone’s earpiece, for instance – might activate different regions in the brain.