Mobile phones and the brain


Mobile phones and the brain

Does mobile phone radiation affect the brain and, if so, how does it do so?

A new study sheds light on these important questions, especially for young people, whose brains are still developing.

In their paper, scientists from China said that mobile phone radiation has been linked with memory loss, attention problems, cognitive and learning difficulties, irritability, sleep problems, stress, seizures, emotional and behavioural problems, inattention and fatigue.

To explore why this occurs, they investigated the effects of radiation on neurons of the hippocampus—the part of the brain that relates to memory and learning. They did this by exposing hippocampal neurons from rats to a mobile phone signal of 1800 MHz for 24, 48 or 72 hours.

They found that neurons exposed for 48 hours had changes in neurite outgrowth. This is the process in which neurons produce new projections as they grow and is important for developing new networks of neurons in childhood or after disease or trauma. Unusual neurite outgrowth can cause neurodegenerative diseases. The exposed neurons had changes to the length and number of their branches.

The researchers also found changes to a protein called Rap1 which is important for cell proliferation, differentiation, migration, signalling and survival.

They postulated that exposure reduced the activity of this protein, causing downstream changes that impaired neurite outgrowth and thus caused changes to the function of the hippocampus.

‘Due to the developmental sensitivity of infants and adolescents, the neuronal impairment induced by 1800 MHz RF-EMR [radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation] can interrupt programmatic neural development and cause abnormal neuronal behavior and diseases,’ the authors said. ‘The influence of RF-EMR exposure on the developing brain requires greater attention.’

Li Yanqi et al, ‘1,800 MHz Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Irradiation Impairs Neurite Outgrowth With a Decrease in Rap1-GTP in Primary Mouse Hippocampal Neurons and Neuro2a Cells’, Frontiers in Public Health, Vol 9, 2021,;

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