The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of exposure to a mobile phone-like radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic field on persons experiencing subjective symptoms when using mobile phones (MP). Twenty subjects with MP-related symptoms were recruited and matched with 20 controls without MP-related symptoms. Each subject participated in two experimental sessions, one with true exposure and one with sham exposure, in random order. In the true exposure condition, the test subjects were exposed for 30 min to an RF field generating a maximum SAR(1g) in the head of 1 W/kg through an indoor base station antenna attached to a 900 MHz GSM MP. The following physiological and cognitive parameters were measured during the experiment: heart rate and heart rate variability (HRV), respiration, local blood flow, electrodermal activity, critical flicker fusion threshold (CFFT), short-term memory, and reaction time. No significant differences related to RF exposure conditions were detected. Also no differences in baseline data were found between subject groups, except for the reaction time, which was significantly longer among the cases than among the controls the first time the test was performed. This difference disappeared when the test was repeated. However, the cases differed significantly from the controls with respect to HRV as measured in the frequency domain. The cases displayed a shift in low/high frequency ratio towards a sympathetic dominance in the autonomous nervous system during the CFFT and memory tests, regardless of exposure condition. This might be interpreted as a sign of differences in the autonomous nervous system regulation between persons with MP related subjective symptoms and persons with no such symptoms.
(c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.