Neurophysiological effects of flickering light in patients with perceived electrical hypersensitivity

J Occup Environ Med. 1997 Jan;39(1):15-22. doi: 10.1097/00043764-199701000-00006.


An increasing number of people in Sweden are claiming that they are hypersensitive to electricity. These patients suffer from skin as well as neurological symptoms when they are near computer monitors, fluorescent tubes, or other electrical appliances. Provocation studies with electromagnetic fields emitted from these appliances have, with only one exception, all been negative, indicating that there are other factors in the office environment that can effect the autonomic and/or central nervous system, resulting in the symptoms reported. Flickering light is one such factor and was therefore chosen as the exposure parameter in this study. Ten patients complaining of electrical hypersensitivity and the same number of healthy voluntary control subjects were exposed to amplitude-modulated light. The sensitivity of the brain to this type of visual stimulation was tested by means of objective electrophysiological methods such as electroretinography and visual evoked potential. A higher amplitude of brain cortical responses at all frequencies of stimulation was found when comparing patients with the control subjects, whereas no differences in retinal responses were revealed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Computer Terminals
  • Dermatitis / diagnosis
  • Dermatitis / etiology*
  • Dermatitis / physiopathology
  • Electricity / adverse effects*
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Electroretinography
  • Environmental Illness / diagnosis
  • Environmental Illness / etiology*
  • Environmental Illness / physiopathology
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Light*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology