The effect of Wi-Fi electromagnetic waves in unimodal and multimodal object recognition tasks in male rats

Neurol Sci. 2017 Jun;38(6):1069-1076. doi: 10.1007/s10072-017-2920-y. Epub 2017 Mar 22.


Wireless internet (Wi-Fi) electromagnetic waves (2.45 GHz) have widespread usage almost everywhere, especially in our homes. Considering the recent reports about some hazardous effects of Wi-Fi signals on the nervous system, this study aimed to investigate the effect of 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi radiation on multisensory integration in rats. This experimental study was done on 80 male Wistar rats that were allocated into exposure and sham groups. Wi-Fi exposure to 2.4 GHz microwaves [in Service Set Identifier mode (23.6 dBm and 3% for power and duty cycle, respectively)] was done for 30 days (12 h/day). Cross-modal visual-tactile object recognition (CMOR) task was performed by four variations of spontaneous object recognition (SOR) test including standard SOR, tactile SOR, visual SOR, and CMOR tests. A discrimination ratio was calculated to assess the preference of animal to the novel object. The expression levels of M1 and GAT1 mRNA in the hippocampus were assessed by quantitative real-time RT-PCR. Results demonstrated that rats in Wi-Fi exposure groups could not discriminate significantly between the novel and familiar objects in any of the standard SOR, tactile SOR, visual SOR, and CMOR tests. The expression of M1 receptors increased following Wi-Fi exposure. In conclusion, results of this study showed that chronic exposure to Wi-Fi electromagnetic waves might impair both unimodal and cross-modal encoding of information.

Keywords: GABA; Memory; Muscarinic receptor; Novel object recognition; Wi-Fi.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Discrimination, Psychological / radiation effects
  • Electromagnetic Radiation*
  • GABA Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / radiation effects
  • Internet*
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Motor Activity / radiation effects
  • Pattern Recognition, Physiological / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Physiological / radiation effects*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M1 / metabolism
  • Recognition, Psychology / radiation effects*
  • Touch Perception / physiology
  • Touch Perception / radiation effects*
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Visual Perception / radiation effects*


  • GABA Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M1