Study: frequent cell phone use slows brain activity 2007-09-21 19:21:32   Print

    BEIJING, Sept. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Frequent mobile phone use may cause a slowing of brain activity and make us behave a little unbalanced, according to a small study of 300 people in Australia, England and the Netherlands.

    The study is published in the International Journal of Neuroscience this month and looked at the group of people over 2.4 years. But researchers intend to expand the study to 17,000 people over a longer period of time.

    Frequent mobile phone users demonstrated slowed brain function, but with the caveat that the slowed brain effects are still considered within normal brain functioning, according to the data.

    A longer study with a larger sample group would consider whether the slowed brain activity should be considered an adverse health effect, according to a statement from Brainclinics Diagnostics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, one of the groups involved in the study. The noted slowed brain function could not be explained by differences in personality, according to researchers.

    "In Alzheimer's dementia you also find a severe slowing of brain activity," said Martijn Arns, the main investigator for Brainclinics Diagnostics, in a statement. "However, the slowing found in this study, with mobile phone users, can still be considered within 'normal' limits." Still, Arns predicted that a longer-term study would show more severe effects.

    Of the 300 people in the study, only 100 were frequent mobile phone users, while 100 were non-mobile phones users and the third group of 100 were an intermediate user group. Differences in brain activity, as measured with quantitative electroencephalographic (EEG) studies, and neuropsychological functions such as attention, memory, executive function and personality, were assessed. Among the results, frequent users scored higher on ratings as extraverts and were found to be less open-minded.

    The study also found that frequent users also showed improved focused attention, which was explained by a learning effect due to making more phone calls in busy places where users had to focus better on a phone call while filtering out background noise and other distractions.

    In the recent study, Brainclinics was joined by researchers at Radbound University in Nijmegen, the Institute of Psychiatry in London and The Brain Resource Co. Ltd. in Sydney.


Editor: Gareth Dodd
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