Low intensity magnetic field influences short-term memory: A study in a group of healthy students

Bioelectromagnetics. 2016 Jan;37(1):37-48. doi: 10.1002/bem.21944. Epub 2015 Dec 11.


This study analyzes if an external magnetic stimulus (2 kHz and approximately 0.1 μT applied near frontal cortex) influences working memory, perception, binary decision, motor execution, and sustained attention in humans. A magnetic stimulus and a sham stimulus were applied to both sides of the head (frontal cortex close to temporal-parietal area) in young and healthy male test subjects (n = 65) while performing Sternberg's memory scanning task. There was a significant change in reaction time. Times recorded for perception, sustained attention, and motor execution were lower in exposed subjects (P < 0.01). However, time employed in binary decision increased for subjects exposed to magnetic fields. From results, it seems that a low intensity 2 kHz exposure modifies short-term working memory, as well as perception, binary decision, motor execution, and sustained attention.

Keywords: Sternberg task; electromagnetic fields; learning deficit; reaction time; working memory.

MeSH terms

  • Electrical Equipment and Supplies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Healthy Volunteers*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Reaction Time
  • Students*
  • Young Adult