Holding a cellphone against your ear changes the activity in your brain, according to a new study that shows the brain is sensitive to the phone’s radiation emissions. Hmmmm…. I’m in BIG trouble… UNLESS it changes my brain for the better! How’s that for seeing the glass as half full
Whether the increased sensitivity is harmless or hurtful to the brain is still up for debate, say researchers from the National Institutes of Health, who found that less than an hour of cellphone use is linked with increased activity in the part of the brain closest to the phone antenna.
It’s not clear yet whether the radiation is potentially carcinogenic or has any other negative health implications — or positive ones, for that matter, says lead author Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about the research in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association.
The year-long study on 47 people used positron emission tomography (PET) scans — a technique used to map out the brain. Study subjects underwent two injections with a dye that measures brain glucose metabolism, which is an indication of the brain’s activity.
The first time around, cellphones were placed on both sides of the head. In half of the participants, the cellphone against the right ear was turned on with the sound muted for 50 minutes and in the other grooup, neither phone was activated. On the second test, the two groups were switched. None of the participants knew which phone was turned on.
The scientists found that metabolism in the brain region closest to the antenna — in the orbitofrontal cortex and temporal pole — was about 7% higher when the cellphone was on. The orbitofrontal cortex of the brain — one of the two areas that lit up on the scans — isn’t linked to a single function, says Murali Doraiswamy, head of biological psychiatry at Duke Medical Center, who wasn’t involved in the study. “It’s broadly associated with emotion, sense of smell, memory, eating, aggression — a whole range of behaviors. It’s like an orchestra conductor instead of just an individual musician with specific task.”