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Mobile radiation excites the brain

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Researchers have reported electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones has an excitatory effect on the cortex, the outer region of the brain responsible for many higher faculties. The jury's out on whether the effect is harmful; the Italian team say it could even be beneficial.

Young male volunteers at Fatebenefratelli hospital in Milan used a GSM900 device for 45 minutes. Reporting in the journal Annals of Neurology, Dr Paolo Rossini and colleagues then measured activity in the motor cortex, located near the ear. Powerful magnets aimed at the motor cortex have been shown to induce muscles to twitch.

The authors found in 12 of the 15 volunteers that "intracortical excitability was significantly modified, short intracortical inhibition was reduced and facilitation enhanced". Or in Inglese, electrical activity was boosted. Subject's brains returned to normal after an hour.

The researchers stress their results do not show phones are bad for you, but say their effect on patients with brain conditions like epilepsy should be looked into. They conclude: "It should be argued that long-lasting and repeated exposure to EMFs [electromagnetic fields] linked with intense use of cellular phones in daily life might be harmful or beneficial in brain-diseased subjects."

The panic over mobile phone radiation has meant there have been several big reviews of data on its effects. So far nobody has found conclusive evidence of any harm. ®

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