An increasing number of reports have demonstrated a significant effect of extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELF MFs) on aspects of animal and human behavior. Recent studies suggest that exposure to ELF MFs affects human brain electrical activity as measured by electroencephalography (EEG), specifically within the alpha frequency (8-13 Hz). Here we report that exposure to a pulsed ELF MF with most power at frequencies between 0 and 500 Hz, known to affect aspects of analgesia and standing balance, also affects the human EEG. Twenty subjects (10 males; 10 females) received both a magnetic field (MF) and a sham session in a counterbalanced design for 15 min. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed that alpha activity was significantly higher over the occipital electrodes (O1, Oz, O2) [F(1,16) = 6.858; P =.019, eta2 = 0.30] and marginally higher over the parietal electrodes (P3, Pz, P4) [F(1,16) = 4.251; P =.056, eta2 = 0.21] post MF exposure. This enhancement of alpha activity was transient, as it marginally decreased over occipital [F(1,16) = 4.417; P =.052; eta2 = 0.216] and parietal electrodes [F(1,16) = 4.244; P =.056; eta2 = 0.21] approximately 7 min after MF exposure compared to the sham exposure. Significantly higher occipital alpha activity is consistent with other experiments examining EEG responses to ELF MFs and ELF modulated radiofrequency fields associated with mobile phones. Hence, we suggest that this result may be a nonspecific physiological response to the pulsed MFs.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.