Mobile telephone use is associated with changes in cognitive function in young adolescents

Department of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Bioelectromagnetics (Impact Factor: 1.71). 12/2009; 30(8):678-86. DOI: 10.1002/bem.20534
Source: PubMed


As part of the Mobile Radiofrequency Phone Exposed Users' Study (MoRPhEUS), a cross-sectional epidemiological study examined cognitive function in secondary school students. We recruited 317, 7th grade students (144 boys, 173 girls, median age 13 years) from 20 schools around Melbourne, Australia. Participants completed an exposure questionnaire based on the Interphone study, a computerised cognitive test battery, and the Stroop colour-word test. The principal exposure metric was the total number of reported mobile phone voice calls per week. Linear regression models were fitted to cognitive test response times and accuracies. Age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status and handedness were fitted as covariates and standard errors were adjusted for clustering by school. The accuracy of working memory was poorer, reaction time for a simple learning task shorter, associative learning response time shorter and accuracy poorer in children reporting more mobile phone voice calls. There were no significant relationships between exposure and signal detection, movement monitoring or estimation. The completion time for Stroop word naming tasks was longer for those reporting more mobile phone voice calls. The findings were similar for total short message service (SMS, also known as text) messages per week, suggesting these cognitive changes were unlikely due to radiofrequency (RF) exposure. Overall, mobile phone use was associated with faster and less accurate responding to higher level cognitive tasks. These behaviours may have been learned through frequent use of a mobile phone.

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