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Neuronal Effects of the Electromagnetic Fields


Research of Different Frequency Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Effects on the Neuron

Tech Area / Field

  • MED-OTH/Other/Medicine

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Urezchenko V M

Leading Institute
Institute of Cybernetics, Georgia, Tbilisi


  • Kuopion University, Finland, Kuopio

Project summary

Purposes of this project are:

– To investigate influence of Cell Phone irradiation (and 900 MHz RF punctuated by Low frequencies) effects on the single neuron plasticity.

– To study influence of ELFs (utilized in cell phones) on the single neuron plasticity.

Investigation into the biological effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) has especially become the object of scientific attention due to the increased use of wireless technology. Since beginning of bioelectromagnetism research studies, attention has been focused on the effects on nervous systems and brain. The importance of this target has recently increased due to the wide diffusion of mobile terminals, used close to head. Absorption of microwave radiation causes heating of biological tissues, which if excessive is deleterious to health. Apart from temperature effects, microwave radiation may produce direct perturbations of the central nervous system athermally. The question of athermal effects is wide debated. On the other hand, in accordance with the general (nonequilibrium) predictions of modern, nonlinear biophysics GSM phone can affect alive organisms in various athermal ways.

The rate of absorption and the distribution of radio frequency radiation (RFR) energy in biological tissue 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 (specific absorption rate) of concentrated energy points.

The output powers of cell phones are set in the relevant technical standards. The peak output powers of GSM phones operating at 900 MHz and 1800 MHz are 2 W (watts) and 1 W respectively. On the other hand, the pick SAR can reach much higher meanings at the ‘hot spots’ in the brain tissue. The sizes of “hot spots” range from several cm at 915 MHz. Big amounts of neurons can occur in this volume.

Their exposure condition significantly differs from exposure condition of other neurons. This is the dimension of the problem that is not addressed by existing Safety Guidelines.

GSM signal transmits information in burst of microwaves. Pulsed microwaves are in turn composed of pulse electro-magnetic field of extremely low frequencies (ELF). The presence of such pulsed ELF in mobile phone signals has opened a new debate and current controversy lies on the possibility that the ELF “bursting” activity of these waves could exert a negative influence through non-thermal processes.

On the other hand, if mobile phone signals are transformed into Fourier spectrum the procedure can elucidate other frequencies, which might be bioactive also.

There are many unsolved questions still. In our opinion one of such questions is investigation into mobile phone irradiation effects on the single neuron plasticity.
Selection of mollusk neurons as objects of investigations is conditioned by following circumstances: These neurons are well identified. Their location, biophysical and electrophysiological characteristics are invariants and repeat from animal to animal.

Thus, investigation into influence of mobile phone irradiation on the single neuron plasticity could give answer on the question: Is mobile phone irradiation hazardous to single neuron functional performance or not. Investigation of influence of ELFs utilized in the cell phones could give answer on the same question also. Results of investigation could be extrapolated to the neurons occurring in the above mentioned “hot spots”.

The overall objectives of the project will be to study:

– Influence of cell phone irradiation on the single neuron synaptic plasticity.

– Influence of cell phone irradiation on the soma membrane plasticity.
– Influence of cell phone irradiation on the pacemaker potential plasticity.
– Influence of ELF on the single neuron synaptic plasticity.
– Influence of ELF on the soma membrane plasticity.
– Influence of ELF on the pacemaker potential plasticity.

The impact of the project on the progress in this field: Information on the safety dose of the Cell Phone irradiation for neuron functional operations will be obtained. The researches will facilitate manufacturing more safety mobile phones.

Competence of project team. Project team has many years experience in:

– Investigation of the electro physiology of single neurons.

– Investigation of mechanism and function of pacemaker potential.
– Investigation of neuron informative activities.
– Investigation of the influence of electromagnetic field on the neuron’s physiology.
– Member of the team has an experience in High EMF (RF) measurements, Investigations of RF influence on human head. He is familiar with FDTD method.

Expected results:

– Project may lead to new knowledge of influence of EMF on neuron activities.

– To expand studies about interaction of Mobile Phone irradiation with neuron operations processes. To determine sensitivity of different plastic systems to Mobile Phone irradiation;
– To get new knowledge about influence of ELFs utilized in cell phones on the functional operations of the single neuron.
– To expand studies about influence of ELF on the neuron's membrane potential, action potential, excitability, pacemaker potential.

Applications: Cell-phone health effect is a global problem. Since millions of people over the world are using cell phones, results from this research could have an public health impact. There is some conceptual distance between measured endpoints and human health risk. However if proposed project is realized it may help international harmonization of the mobile phones safety standards. This idea is supported by results of investigations, where neurons from mollusk embryo were transplanted into rat brain. Transplantation did not elucidate strong immune response and mollusk neurons got alive in rat brain more than for six months.

Meeting ISTC Objectives:

All scientists, including former weapon scientist will work in civilian environment on the civilian project. The project will facilitate integration of Georgian scientists into the international scientific community.

Scope of Activities:

– TEM Cell will be developed for ganglion radiation exposure and dosimetry.

– Effects of 900 MHz irradiation punctuated corresponding to Cell Phone irradiation on different forms of single neuron plasticity will be studied.
– Influence of cell phone irradiation on the single neuron plasticity will be investigated.
– ELFs effects utilized in cell phones on different forms of single neuron plasticity will be studied.
– Effects of ELF on neuron potentials (membrane, action, pacemaker, synaptic) will be studied.

Role of foreign collaborators:

During all period of project implementation, information exchange with foreign collaborators will take place. They will cross-check results obtained in the course of project implementation and coordinate project implementation.

Technical Approach and Methodology:

The object of investigations will be neurons of mollusk Helix Pomatia. After proteolysis treatment isolated ganglion will be placed in micro-tube containing pure Ringer solution. The micro-tube with ganglion will be placed at the center of the TEM Cell which provides an electromagnetically shielded environment. The TEM Cell will be connected with RF source via coaxial cable. As a source of irradiation will be used:

– RF generator (900 MHz). Punctuation of 900 MHz sinusoidal waves will be performed with specific electronic device developed previously.

– Cell phone.

Modeling of the SAR inside of TEM Cell will be accomplished by using the FDTD method on PC.
Besides, in the TEM Cell will be placed fiber optic thermometer probe with the purpose of temperature measuring. This step could be regarded as complementary measure for SAR determination.

After expose to RF ganglion will be replaced to the experimental camera for providing electrophysiological experiments. Microelectrode technique will be used. Neurons will be impaled with glass microelectrodes.

Experiments will be carried out on the identified neurons. The identification makes experiments strongly repeatable.

Synaptic effects will be achieved by applying current pulses on the nerve. Electrical stimulus will be applied via polyethylene suction electrodes to the (separate) nerves. Somatic effects (on the soma membrane level) will be achieved electrically, by intracellular stimulation with the second microelectrode immersed into the neuron. Besides, plastic changes in neuron pacemaker activity will be investigated.

ELFs will be modeled by applying magnetic field (MF) of low frequencies. To apply (MF) of low frequencies ganglion will be placed between a pair of Helmholtz coils. Peak MF induction will be calibrated previously in the center of the coils and monitored during the experiment with a Hall-effect probe. Current feeding the coils will be supplied by the output of low frequency generators.

All well known characteristics of plasticity will be examined.

Plastic changes of non-irradiated identified control neurons (sham irradiation) and actually irradiated the same identified neurons will be compared.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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