Danger from Cell-phones

I have an eye on the Jensen learning web which keeps me abreast in my interest on learning, accelerated learning techniques and recent discoveries on the Brain. This month’s issue of the newsletters deal with the danger of cell phone.

Extract from the newsletter

Like most of us, you probably used your cell phone over the holidays. What’s the latest on cell-phone usage and your brain? There are both rodent and human studies that illuminate new data. In order to mimic the real life situation, with exposure to the electromagnetic fields emitted by mobile phones, investigators used a rat model. They used 55 rats in one study. Aside from the experimental group, some were used as a control and some exposed to a sham (an “off” cell phone in their cage.) In Nittby’s studies, the effects on the experimental group (active cell phones) of repeated exposures over a long period were impaired memory for objects and their temporal order of presentation. Other rodent studies suggest the same data. But what if you took ALL the human studies and examined them?

As you might guess, this subject is controversial. HINT: Don’t ask the cell phone industry for any research. They will all deny any links – too much risk for liability. Barth’s research investigated 19 studies and analyzed them to find out if they had quality data for a meta study. Ten of them qualified and were included in the meta-analysis as they fulfilled several minimum requirements; for example, single-blind or double-blind experimental study design and documentation of means and standard deviation of the dependent variables. Here’s what they found: 1) Attention was affected, showing decreased reaction time. 2) Working memory is lower. 3) The number of errors may be higher under this cell frequency exposure.

OVERALL CONCLUSION: Results of the meta-analysis suggest that electromagnetic fields from cell phones may have an impact on human attention, working memory and health issues.

I would not tell you to use your cell phone less. That’s your decision. I will tell you a bit about our brain. It is highly dependent on very particular frequencies to operate properly. Specifically, 1) your memory is highly dependent on the thalamus which oscillates at 40 Hz, and your hippocampal oscillations for memory formation and retrieval, 2) the last time I checked, I found 502 quality, scientific references that linked up our memory with the quantity and type of frequencies that we are exposed to, and 3) memory loss may be the least of the problems with excess cell phone usage. Over 200 studies have found some links with cancer. Not good.

Nittby H, Grafström G, Tian DP, Malmgren L, Brun A, Persson BR, Salford LG, Eberhardt J. M (2008) Cognitive impairment in rats after long-term exposure to GSM-900 mobile phone radiation. Bioelectromagnetics. 2008 Apr;29(3):219-32.

Barth, A, Winker R, Ponocny-Seliger E, Mayrhofer W, Ponocny I, Sauter C, Vana N. (2008) A meta-analysis for neurobehavioral effects due to electromagnetic field exposure emitted by GSM mobile phones. Occup Environ Med.May;65(5):342-6.

Hardell, L, Carlberg, M, Söderqvist, F, Hansson, Mild K. (2008) Meta-analysis of long-term mobile phone use and the association with brain tumors. Int J Oncology May;32(5):1097-103.

PART TWO: Applications
Two suggestions. One is to reduce the sheer quantity of time spent on a cell phone. That’s a no-brainer. Or, you can do what I do: Once I have answered or dialed, I hold the phone away from my head a few inches. This still allows me to hear what’s being said and I can speak easily while reducing risk.

By the way, some of the kids at school may be adversely influencing their memory by over-usage with their cell phones. Kids today are using their cells as much as, or more than, a laptop or iPod. The effects may be on their memory in the short run. But it puts them at increased risk. Remember they have the “teenage” brain, so they’ll likely ignore the risk. They’ll have poor memory in class because they’d rather risk that than risk not being “connected.”

In the classroom, expect more kids with more memory loss. Here are five quick strategies for your class:

1. Constantly make something important to their brain (say, “Wow, this is so good that…” Or, “If you learn nothing else all day, listen closely and remember this…”)

2. Get students out of their seats for a quick energizer every 8-15 minutes (it bumps up cortisol, dopamine and norepinephrine, all of which help strengthen memory formation.)

3. After every single key idea, say this “Repeat after me…” (or, “Now we just learned there are four seasons. How many seasons are there?”)

4. Use acronyms.

5. Use priming ALL day long (“Earlier I said we have 4 seasons and the coldest one is W-I-N _ _ _?”) They spell out the rest of the word.

Details at www.jensenlearning.com


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