Perception of the electromagnetic field emitted by a mobile phone

Bioelectromagnetics. 2008 Feb;29(2):154-9. doi: 10.1002/bem.20375.


Electromagnetic sensibility refers to the ability to perceive the electromagnetic field (EMF) without necessarily developing health symptoms attributed to EMF exposure. A large sample of young healthy adults (n = 84) performed two forced-choice tasks on the perception of the GSM mobile phone EMF (902 MHz pulsed at 217 Hz), "Was the field on?" and "Did the field change?" (3 conditions x 100 trials for each task, n = 600 trials in total). A monetary prize was announced for good performance (correct response rate > or =75%, n = 600 trials). The performance was no better than expected by chance, and thus none of the participants won the prize. Two participants showed extraordinary performance in one of the task conditions ("Was the field on?", n = 100 trials), with correct response rates of 97% (P = 1.28 x 10(-25)) and 94% (P = 9.40 x 10(-22)), but they failed to replicate the result in the retest of six blocks of the same condition 1 month later. Six participants had reported being able to perceive the mobile phone EMF in the preliminary inquiry, but they performed no better than the others. This study provides empirical evidence against the existence of electromagnetic sensibility to the mobile phone EMF, demonstrating the necessity for replication in EMF studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Phone*
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Perception / radiation effects*
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology*
  • Sensory Thresholds / radiation effects*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*