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The effect of electromagnetic radiation in the mobile phone range on the behaviour of the rat


Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) is emitted from electromagnetic fields that surround power lines, household appliances and mobile phones. Research has shown that there are connections between EMR exposure and cancer and also that exposure to EMR may result in structural damage to neurons. In a study by Salford et al. (Environ Health Perspect 111:881–883, 2003) the authors demonstrated the presence of strongly stained areas in the brains of rats that were exposed to mobile phone EMR. These darker neurons were particularly prevalent in the hippocampal area of the brain. The aim of our study was to further investigate the effects of EMR. Since the hippocampus is involved in learning and memory and emotional states, we hypothesised that EMR will have a negative impact on the subject’s mood and ability to learn. We subsequently performed behavioural, histological and biochemical tests on exposed and unexposed male and female rats to determine the effects of EMR on learning and memory, emotional states and corticosterone levels. We found no significant differences in the spatial memory test, and morphological assessment of the brain also yielded non-significant differences between the groups. However, in some exposed animals there were decreased locomotor activity, increased grooming and a tendency of increased basal corticosterone levels. These findings suggested that EMR exposure may lead to abnormal brain functioning.

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The authors wish to thank the staff of the Biomedical Resource Unit of the University of Kwazulu-Natal for technical assistance.

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Correspondence to Willie M. U. Daniels.

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Daniels, W.M.U., Pitout, I.L., Afullo, T.J.O. et al. The effect of electromagnetic radiation in the mobile phone range on the behaviour of the rat. Metab Brain Dis 24, 629–641 (2009).

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  • Electromagnetic radiation
  • Brain development
  • Behaviour
  • Hippocampus
  • HPA axis
  • Mood disorders