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GSM Cell Phone Effects on the Neuron


Investigation into the Influence of the Electromagnetic Fields Utilized in GSM Communications (1800 Mhz) on the Single Neuron

Tech Area / Field

  • BIO-SFS/Biosafety and BioSecurity/Biotechnology

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Institute of Cybernetics, Georgia, Tbilisi


  • Universita del Salento / Dipartamento di Ingegneria dell'Innovazione, Italy, Lecce\nUniversidad Autonoma de Madrid / Escuela Politecnica Superior, Spain, Madrid

Project summary

Many studies suggest an association of exposure radiofrequency radiation (RF) electromagnetic fields (EMF) and adverse health effects. The International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, ICNIRP, and World Health Organization (WHO), completed a comprehensive review of epidemiologic studies about the effects of RFs on human health in 2004 [ICNIRP, “Epidemiology of Health Effects of Radiofrequency Exposure,” 2004, Environmental Health Perspectives, 112: 1741-1754]. These studies included those that observed outcomes such as brain tumors, leukemias, and reproductive health outcomes. The reviewed studies included those that did and did not show an increased risk associated with RF. This review determined that, despite the ubiquity of new technologies using RF, all reviewed studies lacked appropriate assessment of RF exposure, thereby preventing meaningful conclusions. There is currently no consensus among the scientific community regarding the association of RF and adverse health effects.

Absorption of RF radiation causes heating of biological tissues, which if excessive, is deleterious to health. The limits of EMF exposure are based on the prevention of an excessive rise in body temperature, or in local temperature increase in the case of partial body exposure. EMF bioeffect is determined by the specific absorption rate (SAR), which is defined as the rate of energy absorption per unit mass. Generally it is expressed as watts per kilogram (W/kg).

Since beginning of bioelectromagnetism research studies, most attention has been focused on the effects on nervous systems and brain. The importance of this target has increased due to the wide diffusion of mobile terminals, used close to head. Continuing evidence suggests that mobile phone electromagnetic fields has wide neurophysiologic effects of on humans: [Valentini E., Curcio G., Moroni F., Ferrara M., De Gennaro L. , Bertini M. 2007. Neurophysiological effects of mobile phone electromagnetic fields on humans: A comprehensive review. Bioelectromagnetics. Volume 28, Issue 6 pp. 415 – 432].

For detailed understanding of the problem cell phone irradiation effects are widely studied in animal subjects also. RFR at different intensities induce behavioral endocrine and other changes in animals [Lai H. 2004.Interaction of microwaves and a temporally incoherent magnetic field on spatial learning in the rat.
Physiol Behav. 82(5):785-789.], It was established that that
GSM exposed rats had impaired memory and their temporal order of presentation, compared to sham exposed controls [Nittby H., Grafström G., Dong Ping Tian, Malmgren L., Brun A., Persson B.R., Salford L.G. Eberhardt J. 2008].

The rate of absorption and the distribution of RF radiation energy in biological tissue (brain) depend on many factors. These factors make the distribution of energy absorbed in a brain extremely complex and non-uniform, and lead to the formation of so called “hot spots” - maximum spatial SARs of concentrated energy points [Martens Z., DeMoerloose J., DeZutter D., DePoorter J., DeWagter C. 1995. Calculation of the electromagnetic fields induced in the head of an operator of a cordless telephone. Radio Sci. 30: 283-290.].

Their exposure condition significantly differs from the exposure condition of other neurons. This is not addressed in exposure guidelines.

GSM signals consists of a single-frequency career (900 or 1800 MHz) shaped by a rectangular pulse train. This introduces low-frequency components in signal spectrum, generally in the range of extremely low frequencies (ELFs).

It is unknown whether the biological objects are capable to demodulate RM EMF, however, it was established that punctuated (modulated) RF radiation had much stronger bioeffects than continuous waved EMF [Kues H.A., at all,1999.Absence of ocular effects after either single or repeated exposure to 10 mW/cm2 from a 60 GHz CW source Bioelectromagnetics 20(8):463-473].

Investigation into the cell phone irradiation (1800 MHz) influence on the single neuron could provide important information about fundamental mechanisms of EMF interaction with the nervous system and brain. Isolated snail neurons have been the subject of EMF effects studies. However, the SAR ranges in these investigations were above the adopted limitations and thus effects might be regarded as thermal effects. On the other hand, in accordance with the general predictions of modern, non-linear biophysics EMF can affect alive organisms in various athermal ways [Fröhlich H. 1980. Advances in Electronics and Electron Physics, 53, 85-152].

Introduction of the low frequencies in the irradiation spectrum causes increase of the EMF bioeffects. On the other hand investigations into the influence of the extremely low frequency EMF (ELF) on the biological objects represented significant scientific interest itself.

Continuing evidence suggests that cell phone-generated extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELF MFs) can affect the EEG of the human brain [Cook C.M., Thomas A.W., Prato F.S. 2002.Human electrophysiological and cognitive effects of exposure to ELF magnetic and ELF modulated RF and microwave fields: A review of recent studies. Bioelectromagnetics 23: 144 – 157.], Accumulating evidence demonstrates that ELF MFs are capable of modifying neuronal biophysical characteristics [Oda T., Koike T. 2004. Magnetic field exposure saves rat cerebellar granule neurons from apoptosis in vitro. Neuroscience Letters 365: 83-86.

It worth mentioning, that in works concerning to both RF and ELF it was investigated the EMF effects on the neuron biophysical caracteristics while, effects on the neuron function remained unexplored.

In the frame of the this project we propose to investigate influence of the cell phone irradiation operating at 1800 MHz on the single neuron ability to storage information. In other words it will be investigated influence of the cell phone irradiation on the functioning of the single neuron.

As an object of investigation will be selected mollusk single neurons. Benefit from usage of mollusk neurons as the object of investigations became clear from understanding the results obtained by [Loseva E, Vorobiov T, Ermakova I, Lermontova N, Alekseeva I, Zakharov I, Balaban P. 2001.Comparison of reactive processes in the rat brain elicited by xsenotransplantation of nervous tissues of chiken or pulmonate snail. These authors transplanted mollusk embrion’s neurons into rat brain. Neurons settled down for more then 6 months. Thereby mollusk neurons might be regarded as model system for understanding EMF interaction with brain neurons.

What will be measured?

Neuron plasticity represents the basis of neuron informative activity. One form of neuronal plasticity is habituation to stimulus. Habituation is known as non associative form of learning [Kandel Eric R. 1976.Cellular Basis of Behaviour. W.H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco,]. Learning is due to storage of information. In the plasticity process are involved both - the synapses and the neuron soma membrane.

Investigation into influence of cell phone irradiation on the single neuron habituation to stimulus is the same that investigation into influence of cell phone irradiation on the single neuron ability to storage information.

Besides, in proposed project cumulative effcet of 1800 MHz cell phone irradiation on the single neuron will be investigated.

Investigation into influence of Cell phone irradiation on the single neuron habituation to stimulus could give answer on the question: Is Cell phone irradiation (operating at 1800 MHz) hazardous to single neuron ability to storage information (electrophysiological functioning) or not?

Influence of the ELFs in the range 2-300 Hz on the single neuron will be investigated with the purpose to find possible frequency windows. These frequencies will be recommended as modulation frequencies for the carrier RF 1800 MHz EMF.


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