Human Psychomotor Performance Under the Exposure to Mobile Phones-Like Electromagnetic Fields

Human Psychomotor Performance Under the Exposure to Mobile Phones-Like Electromagnetic Fields

Giuseppe Curcio (University of L'Aquila, Italy)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch532
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


The first studies on humans addressing cognitive functioning changes as a consequence of radiofrequency (RF) EMFs exposure, date back to almost 20 years ago. The effects on human behaviour showed in those pioneering works indicated a somewhat improvement of performance under the exposure to the signal, compared with sham exposure. These first and striking results were not fully replicated by subsequent studies that were characterized by a more methodological robustness and attention to exposure aspects. In accordance with this view, latest reviews and metanalyses have confirmed the paucity of evidence and the lack of reliability of psychomotor and cognitive effects of acute RF EMF exposure on human volunteers, particularly when assessed in well controlled laboratory settings. Thus, despite the public opinion about potential biologic effects of acute RF EMFs irradiation, it can be concluded that to date there is substantial lack of evidence about a negative influence of non-ionizing radiations on cognitive functioning in humans.
Chapter Preview


Most of the included studies entail mobile phone-like signals or base station-like signals as well as other types of EM signals. This review will focus on experimental provocation studies with human volunteers, most of them being carried out as laboratory studies. Only laboratory studies focused on cognitive and psychomotor effects of mobile phone-like EMFs emissions will be taken into consideration. Here, only studies published in the last 20 years and focusing on mobile phone-like emissions will be considered as relevant. To this respect, we will also provide a qualitative overview of the most recent studies published up to 2015.

Pioneer attempt to study human psychomotor performance was undertaken by Koivisto et al. (2000) and Krause et al. (2000) at the University of Turku (Finland). Most current relevant contributions originate from several scholars distributed across different continents. Particular methodological improvements have been proposed by Curcio et al. (2004, 2008) at the Sapienza University of Rome (Italy) and by Regel et al. (2007 a,b) at the University of Zurich (Switzerland), while enlarged sample sizes have been recently studied by Keetley et al. (2006) and Hamblin et al. (2006) at Swinburne University (Australia). In addition, important attempts of replications were performed by Russo et al. (2006) at University of Essex (UK), and by Haaraala et al. (2007) at the University of Turku (Finland).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Behavioral Effects: The result of the irradiation exposure on the motor responses.

Reaction Time: The time lapsing between a stimulus and a response.

Memory: The process of storing and retrieving or recognizing information.

Radiofrequency: Electromagnetic fields have frequencies of radiation in time and space. These go from large wavelength and slow cycles such as 3 KHz to short wavelength and fast cycles such us 300 GHz.

GSM: Global System for Mobile communication. It was one of the most widely used wireless telephony technologies before the advent of 3G protocols.

EMFs: Electromagnetic fields are physical fields produced by electrically charged objects. The magnetic counterpart of the field is determined by the movement of the charged object.

Auditory Effects: The result of the irradiation exposure on the auditory function.

Attention: The process of directing psychomotor and cognitive resources on a task.

Cognitive Effects: The result of the irradiation exposure on, more generally, any cognitive activity measured by laboratory tasks.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: