Mobile phone use may cause a slowing of brain activity, according to a study of 300 people conducted by researchers in Australia, England and the Netherlands.
The study, published in the International Journal of Neuroscience this month, looked at the group of 300 people over 2.4 years, but researchers plan to expand the study over a longer period and with data involving 17,000 people.
In the past concern about mobile phone use has focussed on the possibility that their use may lead to brain cancer.
According to the study, frequent mobile phone users demonstrated slowed brain function, but with the caveat that the slowed brain effects are still considered within normal brain functioning. 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, 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 severely slowing of brain activity," said Martijn Arns, the main investigator for Brainclinics Diagnostics. "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.
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