Mobile Phones-Like Electromagnetic Fields Effects on Human Psychomotor Performance

Mobile Phones-Like Electromagnetic Fields Effects on Human Psychomotor Performance

Elia Valentini (Sapienza University of Rome, Italy) and Giuseppe Curcio (University of L'Aquila, Italy)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8239-9.ch057


Nowadays nearly more than half of human beings on the planet are directly or indirectly exposed to an “evolutionary” novel physical agent: the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by cellular phones, base stations, as well as other types of wireless communication technologies. More than 10 years ago several studies reported that cognitive functions of human beings may have been altered while exposed to radiofrequency (RF) EMFs. Yet, the genuine effect of these non-ionizing radiations on human behaviour was not replicated by several other recent and more methodologically robust studies. Latest reviews and metanalyses confirmed the paucity of evidence in favour of psychomotor and cognitive effects of acute RF EMF exposure on human volunteers in well controlled laboratory settings. Thus, despite persisting concerns on potential biologic effects of acute RF EMFs irradiation, there is substantial lack of evidence that RF radiation can affect cognitive functions in humans.
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Whether there is an effect of MP-like EMFs exposure on human psychomotor performance is still matter of debate. Most of these studies entails MP-like signals or base station-like signals as well as other types of EM signals.

This entry will focus on experimental provocation studies with human volunteers. Most experimental studies with RF exposure have been conducted as laboratory studies. These laboratory studies will only be centred on cognitive and psychomotor effects of MP-like EMFs emissions. Here we will cover studies already reviewed and even recently metanalysed, published in the last 15 years and focusing on MP-like emissions. To this respect, we will also provide a qualitative overview of the most recent studies published up to 2013. 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 were 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

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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