Effects of long-term electromagnetic field exposure on spatial learning and memory in rats

Neurol Sci. 2013 Feb;34(2):157-64. doi: 10.1007/s10072-012-0970-8. Epub 2012 Feb 24.


With the development of communications industry, mobile phone plays an important role in daily life. Whether or not the electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phone causes any adverse effects on brain function has become of a great concern. This paper investigated the effect of electromagnetic field on spatial learning and memory in rats. 32 trained Wistar rats were divided into two groups: exposure group and control group. The exposure group was exposed to 916 MHz, 10w/m2 mobile phone electromagnetic field (EMF) 6 h a day, 5 days a week, 10 weeks. The completion time, number of total errors and the neuron discharge signals were recorded while the rats were searching for food in an eight-arm radial maze at every weekend. The neuron signals of one exposed rat and one control rat in the maze were obtained by the implanted microelectrode arrays in their hippocampal regions. It can be seen that during the weeks 4-5 of the experiment, the average completion time and error rate of the exposure group were longer and larger than that of control group (p < 0.05). During the weeks 1-3 and 6-9, they were close to each other. The hippocampal neurons showed irregular firing patterns and more spikes with shorter interspike interval during the whole experiment period. It indicates that the 916 MHz EMF influence learning and memory in rats to some extent in a period during exposure, and the rats can adapt to long-term EMF exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Hippocampus / radiation effects*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / radiation effects*
  • Memory / radiation effects*
  • Neurons / radiation effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Time Factors