European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 112, Issue 5, pp 1751–1762 | Cite as

Neurophysiological and behavioral effects of a 60 Hz, 1,800 μT magnetic field in humans

  • A. Legros
  • M. Corbacio
  • A. Beuter
  • J. Modolo
  • D. Goulet
  • F. S. Prato
  • A. W. Thomas
Original Article


The effects of time-varying magnetic fields (MF) on humans have been actively investigated for the past three decades. One important unanswered question is the potential for MF exposure to have acute effects on human biology. Different strategies have been used to tackle this question using various physiological, neurophysiological and behavioral indicators. For example, researchers investigating electroencephalography (EEG) have reported that extremely low frequency (ELF, <300 Hz) MF can increase resting occipital alpha rhythm (8–12 Hz). Interestingly, other studies have demonstrated that human motricity can be modulated by ELF MF: a reduction of anteroposterior standing balance or a decrease of physiological tremor intensity have been reported as consequences of exposure. However, the main limitation in this domain lies in the lack of results replication, possibly originating from the large variety of experimental approaches employed. Therefore, the present study aimed to investigate the effects of a 60 Hz, 1,800 μT MF exposure on neurophysiological (EEG) and neuromotor (standing balance, voluntary motor function, and physiological tremor) aspects in humans using a single experimental procedure. Though results from this study suggest a reduction of human standing balance with MF exposure, as well as an increase of physiological tremor amplitude within the frequency range associated with central nervous system contribution, no exposure effect appeared on other investigated parameters (e.g., EEG or voluntary motor control). These results suggest that 1 h of 60 Hz, 1,800 μT MF exposure may modulate human involuntary motor control without being detected in the cortical electrical activity.


Time-varying magnetic field 60 Hz Human Electroencephalography Tremor Standing balance 



The authors thank Mr. Lynn Keenliside for this technical assistance; Ms. Samantha Brown, Julie Weller and Mr. David McNamee for their assistance in the data collection. This project was sponsored by Hydro-Québec, Électricité de France and Réseau de Transport d’Électricité. This study was also in part supported by Canadian Institutes of Health Research grants (MOP 43874 and FRN 85217), the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund (MAR-01- 0936), and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (11358).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Legros
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Corbacio
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. Beuter
    • 3
  • J. Modolo
    • 1
    • 2
  • D. Goulet
    • 4
  • F. S. Prato
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. W. Thomas
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Imaging Division, Lawson Health Research InstituteSt. Joseph’s Health CareLondonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Medical BiophysicsUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  3. 3.Bordeaux Polytechnic InstituteBordeaux UniversityPessac CedexFrance
  4. 4.Hydro-Québec TransEnergieMontrealCanada

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