Effects of mobile phone electromagnetic fields: critical evaluation of behavioral and neurophysiological studies

Bioelectromagnetics. 2011 May;32(4):253-72. doi: 10.1002/bem.20635. Epub 2010 Dec 22.


For the last two decades, a large number of studies have investigated the effects of mobile phone radiation on the human brain and cognition using behavioral or neurophysiological measurements. This review evaluated previous findings with respect to study design and data analysis. Provocation studies found no evidence of subjective symptoms attributed to mobile phone radiation, suggesting psychological reasons for inducing such symptoms in hypersensitive people. Behavioral studies previously reported improved cognitive performance under exposure, but it was likely to have occurred by chance due to multiple comparisons. Recent behavioral studies and replication studies with more conservative statistics found no significant effects compared with original studies. Neurophysiological studies found no significant effects on cochlear and brainstem auditory processing, but only inconsistent results on spontaneous and evoked brain electrical activity. The inconsistent findings suggest possible false positives due to multiple comparisons and thus replication is needed. Other approaches such as brain hemodynamic response measurements are promising but the findings are few and not yet conclusive. Rigorous study design and data analysis considering multiple comparisons and effect size are required to reduce controversy in this important field of research.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior / physiology
  • Behavior / radiation effects*
  • Blood Volume / radiation effects
  • Cell Phone*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / radiation effects
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena / radiation effects*