It has long been suspected that using a mobile phone affects the brain. This has now been confirmed by American research, although they believe that the impact is not harmful.
Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported higher sugar use in the brain, a sign of increased activity, after 50 minutes on the phone.
This was a small scale study using 47 volunteers. They were given two brain scans, each on different days with a mobile phone positioned against each ear. In the first scan, both phones were switched off. But in the second, the phone on the right ear was switched on, muted, and set to receive a lengthy recorded message.
When they compared scans taken in these two different scenarios, researchers discovered a pattern of increased brain activity in the right orbitofrontal cortex and the lower parts of the right superior temporal gyrus.
This showed that the increased brain activity, up by an average of 7%, was localised to the parts of the brain nearest to the mobile phone’s antenna, and wasn’t simply a result of listening to, or thinking about, the message.
There have been previous studies into the impact of mobile phone use. A large scale research project involving 420,000 mobile phone users in Denmark did not shown a link between phone use and cancer.
But many remain unconvinced, and this survey is so small that it merely raises the need for further research.
Professor Patrick Haggard, from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, said, “The implications for health remain unclear. Much larger fluctuations in brain metabolic rate occur naturally, for example during thinking.”
And Professor Malcolm Sperrin, director of Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering at Royal Berkshire Hospital, said, “More work is required to establish any possible link between RF energy deposition in the brain and a consequential health risk.”
So it seems that using our phones does increase brain activity. And given some of the conversations you are forced to overhear in public places these days that might be no bad thing.