Radiation from mobile phone phones affects the way the brain works, Australian researchers have found.

Scientists from Swinburne University of Technology’s Brain Sciences Institute in Melbourne found people’s response times slowed during a 30-minute mobile phone call but their memory appeared to improve.

The researchers conducted a series of psychological tests on 120 volunteers as they were exposed to mobile phone emissions for half an hour.

Another set of tests was conducted on volunteers who were not exposed to mobile phone radiation but thought they were.

The results, published in April’s edition of the journal Neuropsychologia, showed a small but discernible change in brain function among those who were exposed to the electromagnetic fields that mobile phones generate.

“The study showed evidence of slower response times for participants undertaking simple reactions and more complex reactions, such as choosing a response when there is more than one alternative,” lead researcher Con Stough said.

“This could equate to driving a car and being distracted by another car pulling out in front of you. The drivers reaction time to choose between braking, turning or sounding the horn, could be affected, albeit slightly.

“The study also found that radiation from mobile phones seems to improve working memory, used for example when remembering a phone number long enough to dial it.”

He said further work was needed using magnetic resonance imaging to clarify the way mobile phones alter on the way the brain works.

Stough said further, as-yet-unpublished, research by his team suggested the impact of mobile phone radiation on the brain was cumulative.

“People, for instance, who use the mobile phone a lot seem to have more of an impairment than people who are more naive users,” he said.

However, he stressed that the impact on brain function was small and the study did not find that mobile phones caused a health problem.

“We haven’t established that there’s negative health consequences — that’s a different type of study,” he said.

“We’re just showing that the radiation is actually active on the brain. But the impairment is small. The convenience and the way that we communicate now these days outweighs that effect.”

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