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Efesiou (PO Box 66 517) Athens, 15601, GREECE, Tel: ++30210-6536902, Fax: ++30210-6537273 Abstract The present study investigated the influence of electromagnetic fields, similar to that emitted by Wi-Fi system, on brain activity. Fifteen female and fifteen male subjects performed a short memory task (Wechsler test), both without and with exposure to a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi signal. For each subject, radiation condition and electrode, the amplitude in the frequency domain of the EEG signal was calculated from the recordings of 30 scalp electrodes, using the Fourier transform. The presence of radiation had no effect on the energies of alpha and beta band of male subjects, while it reduced these energies of female subjects, resulting in significantly lower energies, as compared to those of males. Delta and theta band energies did not experience any noteworthy effect from gender, radiation condition and their interaction. Conversely, there was a significant interaction effect (gender x radiation) on the energies of alpha and beta rhythms. Interestingly, this pattern was observed for a number of electrodes, which formed two distinct clusters . one located at right-anterior and the second at occipital brain areas. The present data support the idea that Wi-Fi signal may influence normal physiology through changes in gender related cortical excitability, as reflected by alpha and beta EEG frequencies. A. MAGANIOTI ET AL.
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WI-FI ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS EXERT GENDER
RELATED ALTERATIONS ON EEG
ARGIRO E. MAGANIOTI 1, CHARALABOS C. PAPAGEORGIOU 2,3,
CHRISSANTHI D. HOUNTALA 1, MILTIADES A. KYPRIANOU 3,
ANDREAS D. RABAVILAS 3, GEORGE N. PAPADIMITRIOU 2,
CHRISTOS N. CAPSALIS 1
1 NATIONAL TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS, DEPARTMENT OF
ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING, DIVISION OF INFORMATION TRANSMISSION
SYSTEMS AND MATERIAL TECHNOLOGY, 9 Iroon Polytecneioy str., Athens, 15773,
GREECE, Tel: ++30210-7722574, Fax: ++30210-7723520
2 UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS,1ST DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY, EGINITION
HOSPITAL, 74 Vas.Sophias Ave., Athens, 11528, GREECE
3 UNIVERSITY MENTAL HEALTH RESEARCH INSTITUTE (UMHRI), 2 Soranou tou
Efesiou (PO Box 66 517) Athens, 15601, GREECE, Tel: ++30210-6536902, Fax: ++30210-
6537273
Abstract
The present study investigated the influence of electromagnetic fields, similar to that emitted by Wi-Fi system,
on brain activity. Fifteen female and fifteen male subjects performed a short memory task (Wechsler test), both
without and with exposure to a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi signal. For each subject, radiation condition and electrode, the
amplitude in the frequency domain of the EEG signal was calculated from the recordings of 30 scalp electrodes,
using the Fourier transform.
The presence of radiation had no effect on the energies of alpha and beta band of male subjects, while it reduced
these energies of female subjects, resulting in significantly lower energies, as compared to those of males.
Delta and theta band energies did not experience any noteworthy effect from gender, radiation condition and
their interaction. Conversely, there was a significant interaction effect (gender x radiation) on the energies of
alpha and beta rhythms.
Interestingly, this pattern was observed for a number of electrodes, which formed two distinct clusters. one
located at right- anterior and the second at occipital brain areas.
The present data support the idea that Wi-Fi signal may influence normal physiology through changes in gender
related cortical excitability, as reflected by alpha and beta EEG frequencies.
A. MAGANIOTI ET AL.
1. INTRODUCTION
A lot of research has been done in the last years on the possible effects of Radio Frequency Electromagnetic
Fields (RF - EMF) on biological matter. The majority of this research regards the potential health impacts of cell
phones and other mobile communication emitters.
There are several studies involving subjects who perform various tasks while exposed to RF [1-6], which
conclude that some aspects of cognitive function and some measures of brain physiology may be affected by the
exposure to RF of the type emitted by cellular phones. Interestingly, the RF effect was found to be gender related
[7, 8].
Based on the reviewed publications examining possible biological effects of RF exposure, the evidence suggests
that the exposure to RF affect the human brain and its subsequent output in the form of cognition and behavior.
This assumption is in line with recent reviews by Cook et al., (2006) and Valentini et al., (2007) [9, 10].
However, there are also reports contradicting this assumption Kleinlogel et al., (2008) [11].
Very common and constantly increasing sources of RF exposure are wireless networks that allow high-speed
internet access and services, such as Wi-Fi. Inevitably, there has been concern about possible health effects from
such exposure; however little research has been devoted to investigate the possible effects of Wi-Fi signal on
biological systems.
Most of the studies that have been conducted, investigating the biological effects of Wi-Fi on humans, are
mainly dealing with the amount of energy absorbed in human tissue and therefore limited in the measurement of
the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). There are also dosimetry studies ongoing, measuring RF levels around the
globe, including that coming from wireless local area networks (WLANs) [12] and others which indicate that the
exposure level is low compared to other sources [13]. Another approach, involved experimental procedures for
whole-body RF exposure of animals in order to investigate the possible effects of Wi-Fi signal on biological
systems [14].
In view of the above considerations, it can be hypothesized that the electrophysiological brain activity, as
reflected by Electroencephalography (EEG) alpha, beta, theta, delta bands in association with cognitive task
operations, could be of value in identifying possible pathophysiological alterations evoked by Wi-Fi signals and
their connection with gender. Thus, the present study was designed to determine whether the presence of Wi-Fi
signal affects the patterns of EEG activity elicited during a short memory task (Wechsler test).
2. METHODS
2.1. Participants
Thirty healthy individuals (15 men and 15 women, mean age = 23.76 ± 1.67 years, mean education = 16.9 ± 1.06
years) participated in the experiment. The participants were homogeneous with regards to age and educational
level and had no history of any hearing problem. Informed consent was obtained from all subjects.
2.2. Experimental setup and Measurement Procedure
The subjects were evaluated with the digit span Wechsler Auditory test. A warning stimulus of either high (3000
Hz) or low frequency (500 Hz) was presented through earphones to the subjects, who were asked to memorize
the numbers that followed. The warning stimulus lasted 100msec. A one second interval followed the onset of
the warning stimulus and then the numbers to be memorized were presented by a female voice. At the end of the
number sequence presentation, the same signal tone was repeated. The signals were recorded for a 1500msec
interval, which means 500msec before the warning stimulus (EEG) and 1000msec after that (ERP), as described
in previous articles [8, 15]. The numbers were recalled by the subject in the same (low frequency tone) or in the
opposite order (high frequency tone) than that presented to the participant. The total task consisted of 52
repetitions for a period of about 45min. The subjects performed the tasks twice, with and without radiation, with
an interval of two weeks between the measurements. The order in which the subject was exposed at the EMF
(exposure at the first or second visit) was random. The EMF was emitted by a Wi-Fi access point that was
operating at 2.4 GHz frequency. The Wi-Fi signal was radiated by a dual dipole antenna, with 20dBm power and
WI-FI EXERT GENDER RELATED ALTERATIONS ON EEG
OFDM modulation. The access point was placed at a distance of 1.5m from the right part of their head. The field
strength was 0.49V/m at the point where the subjects’ head was standing. According to E. Kapareliotis et al. [16]
there is no evidence that a Wi-Fi signal causes interference at the EEG recordings at the distance of 1.5m from
the EEG electrodes.
The experiment was conducted in a Faraday room, which screened any electromagnetic interference that could
affect the measurements. The attenuation of the mean field was more than 30 dB.
Figure1. Experimental Setup
The electrophysiological signals were recorded with Ag/AgCl electrodes. Electrode resistance was kept
constantly below 5 kΩ. EEG activity was recorded from 30 scalp electrodes (FC6, FC2 F8, F4, Fz, AFz, Fp2, Fz,
Fp1, P3, T3, FC1, FC5, F3, F7, T6, P4, CP6, CP2, T4, C4, O2, Oz, O1, Pz, Cz, T5, CP1, CP5, C3) based on the
International 10-20 system of Electroencephalography [17], referred to both earlobes. Linked ear lobes served as
reference. The bandwidth of the amplifiers was set at 0.05 35 Hz. Eye movements were recorded with the use
of electro-oculogram (EOG) and recordings with EEG higher than 75 μV were excluded. The evoked bio
potential signal was submitted to an analogue-to-digital conversion, at a sampling rate of 1 KHz and was
averaged by a computerized system.
2.3. Data Transformation
For each question 1500 data points, each corresponding to time segments of 1msec duration for each electrode
were saved. In order to optimize the signal to noise ratio for each subject and each channel all EEG values were
average referenced on the basis of the grand average across the 52 repetitions of the EEG values. This procedure
was done separately for each EMF condition. The final data for analysis for each subject and condition consisted
of 1500 amplitude values for each electrode, expressed in μVolts corresponding to the 1500msec of the time
period [8, 15], 500ms before the onset of the first warning stimulus (EEG), and 1000 ms after the onset (ERP).
For each subject, each radiation condition and each electrode, the amplitude in the frequency domain was
calculated using the Fourier transform (FFT) (EEG). This analysis confirmed the expected pattern of the spectral
distribution of the signals, with the appearance of peaks within the range of the four basic rhythms d (0–4 Hz), θ
(57 Hz), a (813 Hz) and b (1430 Hz) in all EEG series.
A. MAGANIOTI ET AL.
2.4. Statistical analysis
The EEG energies were log-normalized so that their distribution for all the electrodes and both experimental
conditions did not deviate from normality. For each band, the energies at the thirty electrodes were subjected to
multivariate analysis of variance with gender (male-female) and radiation condition (on-off) as the independent
factors, followed by post-hoc pair wise comparisons with Bonferroni corrections. The significance level was set
at 0.05.
3. RESULTS
Multivariate analysis of variance did not reveal any significant effect of gender, radiation condition and their
interaction on the energies of the delta and theta bands. Conversely, there was a significant interaction effect
(gender x radiation) on the energies of the alpha and beta band. The nature of this interaction effect can be
clarified by Figure 2, which shows the average values at the alpha band for male and female subjects, for the two
radiation conditions at electrode F8. As this figure shows, at the absence of EMF the alpha band energies of the
two genders are practically the same. The presence of radiation did not have any effect on the energy of male
subjects, whereas it reduced the energy of female subjects, resulting in a significantly lower energy, as compared
to the energy of male subjects.
Figure 2. Average values at the alpha band for male and female subjects, for the two radiation conditions at electrode F8
The same pattern was observed for a number of electrodes (FC6, F8, Fp2, Fpz, C4, O2, Oz and O1). As Figure 3
shows these electrodes form two distinct clusters, one located at right- anterior and the second at occipital brain
areas. Interestingly, analysis revealed that the beta band energies have practically the same behavior.
WI-FI EXERT GENDER RELATED ALTERATIONS ON EEG
Figure3. p-values of the differences between male and female subjects in the absence and presence of the Wi-Fi signal
3. SUMMARY - DISCUSSION
The comparison between experimental conditions showed that the presence of radiation did not have any effect
on the energies of the alpha and beta band of male subjects, while it reduced these energies of female subjects,
resulting in significantly lower energies, as compared to the energies of male subjects.
Additionally, the energies of the delta and theta bands did not experience any significant effect from gender,
radiation condition and their interaction. Conversely, there was a significant interaction effect (gender x
radiation) on the energies of the alpha and beta rhythms.
Interestingly, this pattern was observed for a number of electrodes, which formed two distinct clusters, one
located at right-anterior and the second at occipital brain areas.
The results of the present study may be interpreted in the light of the psycho physiological and brain-imaging
studies related to EEG functional anatomy. The quantification of EEG was proven a useful and appropriate
method in measuring the level and topographical distribution of cortical activation during cognitive task
performance. In general, the functional significance of varying brain activity can be seen in the vicinity to the
underlying neural circuits. For instance, it is assumed that alpha band activity reflects an increased excitability
level of neurons in the certain cortical areas, which may be related to an enhanced information transfer in
thalamocortical circuits and is strongly correlated with working memory as well as with long-term memory
engramms [18-21]. Beta bursts being related to cortico-cortical interactions shift the system to an attention state
that consequently allows for gamma synchronization and perception [22-24].
The effect of Wi-Fi exposure (significant interaction effect -gender x radiation-on the energies of the alpha and
beta bands) are in accordance with previous studies of our team regarding gender related differences in the EEG
under EMF exposure of 900MHz and 1800MHz similar to that of mobile phones [8, 15, 25, 26, 5, 7]. Also
Smythe and Costall (2003) [27] have reported sex-dependent effects of EMF exposure on human memory during
a memory task.
Although, the biological basis for these sex differences remains elusive, emerging evidence provides plausible
mechanisms for the explanation of these differences. In particular, central nervous system effects of EMFs have
been considered to be secondary to damage to the bloodbrain barrier (BBB) permeability [28-31].At this point
is reasonable to consider the existence of gender-related blood-barrier differences, a fact which would explain
the fundamental differences between males and females in the intrinsic cognitive processes and in the way they
are affected by different types of electromagnetic radiation [32-34]. Furthermore research also indicates that
EMF exposure affects the melatonin release, specifically it has been demonstrated a reduced excretion of the
urinary metabolite of melatonin among persons using a mobile phone for more than 25 min per day [35]. This
observation would be better understood taking into account that in a study of pubertal individuals it has been
A. MAGANIOTI ET AL.
found significantly higher total, nocturnal and diurnal 6-sulfatoxymelatonin excretion in girls [36].
It is concluded that Wi-Fi may influence normal physiology through changes in gender related cortical
excitability as it is reflected by the alpha and beta EEG frequencies.
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Due to their non-stationarity, ERP signals are difficult to study. The concept of cointegration might overcome this problem and allow for the study of the co-variability between whole ERP signals. In this context cointegration factor is defined as the ability of an ERP signal to co-vary with other ERP signals. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the cointegra- tion factor is dependent on different EMF condi- tions and gender, as well as the locations of the electrodes on the scalp. The findings revealed that women have a significantly higher cointe- gration factor than men, while all subjects have increased cointegration factors in the presence of EMF. The cointegration factor is location de- pendent, creating a distinct cluster of high coin- tegration capacity at the central and lateral electrodes of the scalp, in contrast to clusters of low cointegration capacity at the anterior and posterior electrodes There seem to be distinct similarities of the present findings with those from standard methodologies of the ERPs. In conclusion cointegration is a promising tool towards the study of functional interactions bet- ween different brain locations.
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The use of cellular or mobile telephones has expanded rapidly in recent years. It is unclear whether exposure to the fields generated by these devices is linked with health effects. Results from some studies suggest that cellular telephone exposures may be associated with elevated brain or ocular cancer risks whereas others report no association. Two recent studies suggest that analog cellular telephone use in particular may be linked with increased brain cancer risks. Reduced secretion of the hormone, melatonin, or the excretion of its major urinary metabolite, 6-hydroxymelatonin sulfate (6-OHMS), has been reported in some studies of humans exposed to extremely low frequency magnetic fields (MFs). Because melatonin has oncostatic, immune enhancing, and antioxidant properties, reduced production of this hormone in response to MF exposure has been suggested as a plausible mechanism to explain increased cancer risks in human populations exposed to MFs. The relationship between cellular telephone use and 6-OHMS excretion was studied in two populations of male electric utility workers where analog phones were predominantly used (Study 1, n = 149; Study 2, n = 77; Intl. J. Radiat. Biol. 78:1029-36. 2002). Participants collected urine samples and recorded cellular telephone use over three consecutive work days. Personal 60 Hz MF and ambient light exposures were characterized on the same days using EMDEX II meters with adapted light sensors. A repeated measures analysis was used to assess the effects of cellular telephone use, alone and combined with 60 Hz MF exposures, after adjusting for the effects of age, participation month, and mean ambient light exposure. In Study 1, multi-day cellular telephone use exceeding 25 minutes per day was observed in one worker. In Study 2, four of five workers reported three consecutive days of cellular telephone use exceeding 25 minutes per day. In Study 1, no change in 6-OHMS excretion was observed among workers with daily cellular telephone use exceeding 25 minutes (5 worker-days). Study 2 workers with more than 25 minutes of cellular telephone use per day (13 worker-days) had lower creatinine-adjusted mean nocturnal 6-OHMS concentrations (p = 0.05) and overnight 6-OHMS excretion (p = 0.03) compared to those without cellular telephone use. There was a linear trend of decreasing mean nocturnal 6-OHMS/cr concentrations (p = 0.02) and overnight 6-OHMS excretion (p = 0.08) across categories of increasing cellular telephone use, and the greatest reductions in adjusted mean 6-OHMS levels occurred on the third day of participation. The combination of increased cellular telephone use and occupational 60 Hz MF exposure was also associated with reduced 6-OHMS excretion in Study 2. In summary, exposure related decreases in 6-OHMS excretion were observed in Study 2, where daily cellular telephone use exceeding 25 minutes was more prevalent. The results suggest that a minimum daily and/or a multi-day threshold of cellular phone use may be necessary to reduce 6-OHMS excretion. Exposure to elevated 60 Hz MFs may potentiate the effect.
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The effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) emitted by cellular phones on human electroencephalogram (EEG) were studied during an auditory memory task. The experimental method and the experimental setup are introduced as a credible measurement method of EEG. 19 normal subjects (10 women and 9 men) performed the memory task both with and without exposure to a 900 MHz signal, emitted by a dipole antenna placed near the subjects' head. The energy of the EEG signals was calculated at the time domain. A Fourier transform of the EEG signals was done and the EEG energy was also calculated at the frequency domain. As the Parseval's theorem anticipates the energies were identical. The EEG energy was found concentrated at the four basic bands (α (8–13 Hz), β(14–30 Hz), δ (0–4 Hz) and θ(5–7 Hz)). The primary concern of the present study was the gender related influence of EMF on the spectral energy of EEG. The results show evidence of a strong gender—radiation interaction effect on the EEG energy and on the peak amplitudes within each of the four rhythms. Without radiation the spectral power of males is greater than of females, while under exposure the situation is reversed. Under the influence of EMF the spectral power of the males EEG is decreased while that of the females is increased. In conclusion both the baseline EEG and the changes effected to the EEG power spectrum under the influence of EMF seem to be gender dependent.
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