Study shows cell phone use affects brain activity

7:54 PM, Feb 22, 2011   |    comments
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  • Study shows cell phone use affects brain activity
  • Study shows cell phone use affects brain activity
    

MINNEAPOLIS -- New research shows just 50 minutes spent talking on a cell phone can significantly alter brain activity.

But before you get hung up on the headline, what does it really means to cell phone users?

The new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) looked at the brain activity of 47 healthy adults. Each had cell phones placed on their left and right ears. One phone was on but muted, the other was off. The study revealed that holding the muted cell phone up to your ear for 50 minutes resulted in increased brain activity.

Dr. Nora Volkow is the study author.

She said, "The radio frequencies from the cell phones, which are very weak and that's why many people disregarded them as being able to change brain function, indeed can change brain activity in the human brain."

Volkow, with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who has used pet scans to study the effect of substance abuse, used them in this study to measure glucose metabolism, a marker of brain activity.

She said, "This right area of the brain that was very close to the antenna shows the largest increase in metabolism as compared when the telephones were off."

Dr. Thomas Henry of University of Minnesota Physicans uses similar scans to monitor brain activity in those with epilepsy.  He said, "This study shows us that a cell phone that's not actually transmitting any sound just by being turned on and being next to the skull of a person can actually influence the neurons in our brains."

Henry said while the study showed increased activity, it does not show effects, good or bad.

Henry said, "So I think this is a study that may lead to interesting future research.  I'm not sure it tells us that cell phones are dangerous however."

To find out if cell phones are harmful or harmless, more study needs to be done.

While the study does not show if cell phones are dangerous or safe, Dr. Volkow said those concerned about safety can use earphones or speakerphone when talking on a cell phone to keep it away from the brain.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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