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Keywords:

  • cellular phone;
  • electromagnetic fields;
  • global system for mobile communication (GSM);
  • positron emission tomography

Abstract

We investigated the effects of radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF) similar to those emitted by mobile phones on waking regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in 12 healthy young men. Two types of RF EMF exposure were applied: a ‘base-station-like’ and a ‘handset-like’ signal. Positron emission tomography scans were taken after 30 min unilateral head exposure to pulse-modulated 900 MHz RF EMF (10 g tissue-averaged spatial peak-specific absorption rate of 1 W/kg for both conditions) and sham control. We observed an increase in relative rCBF in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex on the side of exposure. The effect depended on the spectral power in the amplitude modulation of the RF carrier such that only ‘handset-like’ RF EMF exposure with its stronger low-frequency components but not the ‘base-station-like’ RF EMF exposure affected rCBF. This finding supports our previous observation that pulse modulation of RF EMF is necessary to induce changes in the waking and sleep EEG, and substantiates the notion that pulse modulation is crucial for RF EMF-induced alterations in brain physiology.