'Slowed Brain-Activity' in Frequent Mobile Phone Users
20 Sep, 2007 12:47 pm
The present study employs standardized data acquired from the Brain Resource International Database to study the relationship between mobile phone (GSM) usage, personality and brain function (N=300). Based on the frequency and duration of mobile phone usage, three groups were formed. The findings suggest a subtle slowing of brain activity related to mobile phone use which is not explained by differences in personality. These changes are still within normal physiological ranges. Better executive function in mobile phone users may reflect more focused attention, possibly associated with a cognitive training effect (i.e. frequently making phone calls in distracting places), rather than a direct effect of mobile phone use on cognition.
NOTE: These effects are still within normal limits and should NOT be interpreted as adverse health effects, they need replication and further study.
The relationship between the cumulative long-term and/or frequent use of GSM use on brain function and information processing has not been investigated yet. Therefore, this epidemiological study was designed to gather data and explore the association between long term and/or frequent GSM-use, brain function and personality. The Brain Resource International Database (also see www.brainnet.org.au) was used to investigate personality, neuropsychological performance and brain function as a function of self-reported mobile phone use in a large group of healthy subjects.
The results of our study show that Frequent mobile phone users showed improved performance on the Stroop test and showed a lower interference score, as can be seen in the figure below. Furthermore, there was increased slow activity in the EEG (delta and theta) related to the frequency of mobile phone use as can be seen below.
The alpha peak frequency was also lower for mobile phone users, and there was a significant correlation between mobile phone use and Eyes Open alpha peak frequency at central and right temporal sites.
These results cannot be explained by the pre-existing differences in Personality and Stroop performance.
The results showed that frequent mobile phone (GSM) users were more extraverted and less open-minded (openness). Furthermore, frequent mobile phone users showed improved focused attention (less interference on the Stroop). This was explained by a learning effect due to making more often phone calls in busy environments, whereby people learn to better focus on the phone call and filtering out irrelevant environmental information. However, the brain activity from frequent mobile phone users showed more slow activity (increased Delta and Theta) and a slowed Alpha Peak Frequency. These effects could not be explained by the differences in personality and focused attention. Severely slowed brain activity has also been found in patients with Alzheimer’s dementia. However, the slowing found in this study can still be considered within ‘normal’ limits. The frequent mobile phone user group used their mobile phone at the time of data collection on average only 2.4 years, which can currently be considered short. Therefore, it could be expected that the observed effects in this study could be exaggerated with longer mobile phone use.
For this study the ‘Brain Resource Company International Brain Database’ was employed, which currently contains data from more than 17.000 people, on the basis of which this study could be replicated in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner. Future studies should point out whether this effect can be replicated in larger groups, with longer mobile phone use and whether this slowed brain activity should be considered adverse health effects or not.
NOTE: These effects are still within normal limits and should NOT be interpreted as adverse health effects, they need replication and further study. For more information also see Brainclinics Diagnostics
Arns M., et al, , International Journal of Neuroscience, September 2007