Wireless on the brain

09 May 2008

ITEM: In a refreshing twist on the cell-phone/heath debate, two studies have come out suggesting that mobile phones can potentially screw up your brainwaves.

In one study from the Brain Science Institute at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, researchers monitored the brainwaves of 120 healthy men and women with Nokia 6110 cell phone strapped to their heads. Result: cell phone transmissions boosted the alpha waves in the person's brain significantly - especially in the brain tissue directly beneath to the cell phone.

Here's where it gets fun: according to Scientific American, Alpha waves normally increase in power when a person shifts his or her consciousness of the external world to internal thoughts. They also are the key brainwave signatures of sleep.

So if a mobile phone signal boosts your alpha waves, would it nudge you subliminally into an altered state of consciousness or have any effect at all on the workings of their mind that can be observed in a person's behavior‾

A study from the Loughborough University Sleep Research Centre in the UK tested this idea by attaching a Nokia 6310e to the head of 10 healthy but sleep-deprived men in their sleep research lab. Result: "the cell phone signals alter a person's behavior during the call, the effects of the disrupted brain-wave patterns continued long after the phone was switched off."

The good news, at least, is that both research teams found that none of this is physically harmful. It also opens up a ton of new questions as we move to a more wireless world. If mobile phones are transmitting at frequencies influencing our brainwave patterns, what about in a world full of Wi-Fi, Wimax, Bluetooth, Zigbee, UWB and other wireless technologies‾

That should keep the world's regulators, health bureaus and politicians busy.

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