The Effect of GSM Electromagnetic Field Exposure on the Waking Electroencephalogram: Methodological Influences

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Although there is consistent evidence that exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) increases the spontaneous resting alpha spectral power of the electroencephalogram (EEG), the reliability of this evidence is uncertain as some studies have also failed to observe this effect. The present study aimed to determine whether the effect of RF-EMF exposure on EEG alpha power depends on whether EEG is derived from eyes open or closed conditions and assessed earlier (<5-min) versus later (>25-min) in the exposure interval. Thirty-six adults participated in three experimental sessions, each involving one exposure: “Sham,” “Low,” and “High” RF-EMF corresponding to peak spatial specific absorption rates averaged over 10 g of 0, 1, and 2 W/kg, respectively. Resting EEG was recorded at baseline (no exposure), during, and after exposure. Alpha power increase was found to be greater for the eyes open than eyes closed EEG during both the High (P = 0.04) and Low (P = 0.04) RF-EMF exposures. There was also a trend toward it being larger at the end, versus the start of the “High” 30-min exposure (P < 0.01; eyes open condition). This suggests that the use of eyes closed conditions, and insufficient RF-EMF exposure durations, are likely explanations for the failure of some studies to detect an RF-EMF exposure-related increase in alpha power, as such methodological choices decrease signal-to-noise ratios and increase type II error.

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National Health and Medical Research Council



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