Neurophysiological study of patients with perceived 'electrical hypersensitivity'

Int J Psychophysiol. 2001 Nov;42(3):233-41. doi: 10.1016/s0167-8760(01)00141-6.


The aim of the present study was to investigate baseline neurophysiological characteristics of the central and autonomous regulation and their reactivity to different tests in a group of persons with so-called 'electrical hypersensitivity', which is often considered as a form of psychosomatic disorders. Twenty patients with combinations of neuroasthenic symptoms (general fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache) and facial skin (itching, tingling, redness) have been investigated. An equal number of symptom-free persons served as a control group. The examination comprised self-reported measures, testing of visual functions, measurements of blood pressure, heart rate and its variability, electrodermal activity, respiration, EEG and visual evoked potentials (VEP). Several variables were found to differ between the patient and the control groups. The mean value of heart rate in rest condition was higher in the patient group compared to the controls (mean value of inter-beat intervals were 0.80 and 0.90 s, respectively). Heart rate variability and response to standing test were decreased in the patient group compared to the controls. Patients had faster onset, higher amplitudes, and left-right hand asymmetry of the sympathetic skin responses. They had a higher critical fusion frequency (43 vs. 40 Hz), and a trend to increased amplitude of steady-state VEPs at stimulation frequencies of 30-70 Hz. The data indicated that the observed group of patients had a trend to hyper sympathotone, hyperresponsiveness to sensor stimulation and heightened arousal.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects
  • Environmental Illness / physiopathology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patients / statistics & numerical data
  • Perception / physiology*