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Functional and network analyses of human exposure to long-term evolution signal


Human exposure to the electromagnetic field emitted by wireless communication systems has raised public concerns. There were claims of the potential association of some neurophysiological disorders with the exposure, but the mechanism is yet to be established. The wireless networks, recently, experience a transition from the 4th generation (4G) to 5th generation (5G), while 4G long-term evolution (LTE) is still the frequently used signal in wireless communication. In the study, exposure experiments were conducted using the LTE signal. The subjects were divided into sham and real exposure groups. Before and after the exposure experiments, they underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging. Within-session and between-session comparisons have been executed for functional connectivity and network properties. Individual specific absorption rate (SAR) was also calculated. The results indicated that acute LTE exposure beneath the safety limits modulated both the functional connection and graph-based properties. To characterize the effect of functional activity, SAR averaged over a certain tissue mass was not an appropriate metric. The potential neurophysiological effect of 5G exposure has also been discussed in the study.

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Availability of data and materials

The datasets generated and analyzed during the current study are not publicly available due (data involves the subject’s privacy) but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


This work was supported by grants from National Natural Science Foundation Project (Grant No. 61971445)

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Authors and Affiliations



Lei Yang and Tongning Wu conceived and designed the study; Lei Yang performed the experiments; Tongning Wu wrote the paper; Chen Zhang reviewed and edited the manuscript; Congsheng Li and Zhiye Chen collection of the data; all authors read and approved the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tongning Wu.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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The participants signed consent after the experimental procedure had been fully explained.

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The subjects signed informed consent regarding publishing their data, and manuscript is approved by all authors for publication.

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Responsible Editor: Lotfi Aleya

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Yang, L., Zhang, C., Chen, Z. et al. Functional and network analyses of human exposure to long-term evolution signal. Environ Sci Pollut Res 28, 5755–5773 (2021).

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  • Long-term evolution
  • Functional connectivity
  • Brain network
  • Specific absorption rate (SAR)
  • Electromagnetic hypersensitivity
  • Safety limits
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)