Can low-level exposure to radiofrequency fields effect cognitive behaviour in laboratory animals? A systematic review of the literature related to spatial learning and place memory

Zenon Sienkiewicz*, Eric van Rongen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This review considers whether exposure to low-level radiofrequency (RF) fields, mostly associated with mobile phone technology, can influence cognitive behaviour of laboratory animals. Studies were nominated for inclusion using an a priori defined protocol with preselected criteria, and studies were excluded from analysis if they did not include sufficient details about the exposure, dosimetry or experimental protocol, or if they lacked a sham-exposed group. Overall, 62 studies were identified that have investigated the effects of RF fields on spatial memory and place learning and have been published since 1993. Of these, 17 studies were excluded, 20 studies reported no significant field-related effects, 21 studies reported significant impairments or deficits, and four studies reported beneficial consequences. The data do not suggest whether these outcomes are related to specific differences in exposure or testing conditions, or simply represent chance. However, some studies have suggested possible molecular mechanisms for the observed effects, but none of these has been substantiated through independent replication. Further behavioural studies could prove useful to resolve this situation, and it is suggested that these studies should use a consistent animal model with standardized exposure and testing protocols, and with detailed dosimetry provided by heterogeneous, anatomically-realistic animal models.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1607
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume16
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords

  • Memory
  • Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields
  • Rodents
  • Spatial learning

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