Effects of early-onset radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure (GSM 900 MHz) on behavior and memory in rats

Radiat Res. 2014 Oct;182(4):435-47. doi: 10.1667/RR13695.1. Epub 2014 Sep 24.


Female Wistar rats, from an age of 14 days to 19 months, were exposed in the head region for 2 h per day, 5 days per week, to a GSM-modulated 900 MHz radiofrequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF). The average specific absorption rates (SAR) in the brain were 0 (sham), 0.7, 2.5 and 10 W/kg. To ensure a primary exposure of the head region, rats were fixed in restraining tubes of different sizes according to their increasing body weight. During the experiment, a set of 4 behavioral and learning tests (rotarod, Morris water maze, 8-arm radial maze, open field) were performed 3 times in juvenile, adult and presenile rats. In these tests, no profound differences could be identified between the groups. Only presenile rats of the cage control group showed a lower activity in two of these tests compared to the other groups presumably due to the lack of daily handling. The rotarod data revealed on some testing days significantly longer holding times for the sham-exposed rat vs. the exposed rat, but these findings were not consistent. During the first year, body weights of sham-exposed and exposed rats were not different from those of the cage controls, and thereafter only marginally lower, so that the effect of stress as confounder was probably negligible. The results of this study do not indicate harmful effects of long-term RF-EMF exposure even when begun at an early age on subsequent development, learning skills and behavior in rats, even at relatively high SAR values.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Behavior, Animal / radiation effects*
  • Body Temperature / radiation effects
  • Body Weight / radiation effects
  • Cell Phone
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Maze Learning / radiation effects
  • Memory / radiation effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Radio Waves / adverse effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Rotarod Performance Test