Effects of high-intensity microwave pulse exposure of rat brain


  • Arthur W. Guy,

  • Chung-Kwang Chou


Previous studies have indicated that auditory responses could be evoked in the head of animals exposed to 500-μs-wide or less microwave pulses of relatively small absorbed energies (5–180 mJ/kg). These studies were extended using an exposure system capable of locally exposing the head and especially the brain of the animal to a single 915-MHz pulsed magnetic field with sufficient intensity to produce a specific absorption rate level as high as 4×105 W/kg for any pulse width. When the animal was exposed to various pulse widths (1μs to 360 ms) and power levels (2–10 kW), the animal displayed no reaction other than that due to the hearing effect until the peak absorbed energy density in the brain exceeded 28 kJ/kg, or an absorbed energy in the head of 680 J, regardless of peak power or pulse width. Thermographic and thermocouple measurements indicated a maximum temperature rise of 8°C or final maximum brain temperature of 46° −46.5°C at the reaction level. The reaction consisted of petit or grand mal seizures lasting for 1 min after exposure, followed by a 4- to 5-min unconscious state during which normal reflexes were displayed. There was a decrease in heartbeat rate in the exposed unanesthetized animals. After the period of unconsciousness the rats recovered without apparent effect from the exposure. Measurements indicated that the brain temperature returned to baseline level within 5 min after exposure and the animals began moving when the brain temperature returned to within 1°C of their normal values. These results would indicate that the thresholds for convulsions induced by short exposures of the brain to high energy pulses are dependent only on the deposited energy and temperature rise. Histological examinations of some of the animal brains indicated some demyelination of neurons 1 day after exposure and some microfocal glial nodules in the brain 1 month after exposure.