Brain Development, Cell Phones and Wireless: Scientific Research on the Neurotoxic Effects of Wireless Radiation


Brain Development, Cell Phones and Wireless

Scientific Research on the Neurotoxic Effects of Wireless Radiation

Research indicates that exposure to wireless radiation can harm the brain. Experiential research has found that exposure reduces brain cells and causes brain cell death in the memory and learning centers of the brain. Research also has fund DNA damage in the brain from EMF exposures. This scientific evidence of  a neurotoxic effect- meaning adverse effects on the brain and brain development – has profound implications for our children’s health future.

This webpage briefly summarizes this research, followed by a list of research studies so that you can share the scientific documentation in your community.

Altered Brain Activity

Contrary to reports that this radiation has “no effect” research clearly shows that exposure results in changes in brain activity.  In 2011, NIH research found just 50 minutes of a wireless transmitting device (cell phone) next to the brain increases glucose metabolism in the part of the brain most exposed. This study made headline news and Dr. Volkow recommended that people reduce direct exposure to their brains. She also stated that there was an “urgent need” to do additional research. Preliminary research on 3G and 4G has further shown that non-thermal levels of this radiation alter the brain’s electrical activity.


Damaged Brain Development, Hyperactivity and Memory Problems

Dr. Taylor of Yale Medicine and colleagues found that when mice were exposed to cell phone signals while pregnant, their offspring then showed increased hyperactivity and impaired memory.  In addition, his neurological tests revealed abnormal brain development. Research on humans has also found higher cell phone radiation exposure associated with higher behavioral problems.

Damaged Brain Cells

Research from Turkish scientists Bas, Odaci, Sonmez, Kaplan and colleagues found significant brain cell damage within the hippocampus and cerebellum of rats following  exposure to cell phone radiation frequencies. Many of these studies exposed rats to radiofrequency (RF) for only one hour a day for one month. After exposure, the animals brains were carefully examined using a state of the art stereological technique that counts brain cells to investigate the effects of exposure. Sonmez, et al. state the age of their test animals is comparable to human teenagers, and thus their results suggest the human teenage brain is sensitive to chronic mobile phone exposure. These significant research results prompted Dr. Suleyman Kaplan to file a comment to the US FCC review of human exposure to radiofrequency radiation in which he summarizes his recent research showing neurological damage after exposure. Dr. Kaplan states his research, along with others, is evidence that current FCC standards are not adequate for children and teenagers due to their increased sensitivity to RFR and chronic lifetime exposure.

A follow up study by researchers from the Ondokuz Mayıs Medical School examining electromagnetic field effects on the human hippocampus reported that subjects with high cell phone exposure showed a significant lack of attention and concentration in comparison to the low exposure group.

Combined Exposures Increase Effects on the Brain

Research investigating cell phone radiation in combination with the heavy metal lead- which is a known neurotoxin- has found that children with blood lead levels had higher ADHD like symptoms if they also had higher cell phone use. This finding lead the researchers to consider a potential synergetic effect between lead and radiofrequency (RF) fields, meaning the RF exposure increased the effects from the lead exposure.  In fact, multiple research studies have found that electromagnetic fields can increase the effects of a known toxic exposure.  Researchers have repeatedly found a tumor promotion effect from EMF. Please visit EHTs webpage on the synergistic effects of  EMFs to learn more about research that has found EMF’s in combination with other environmental toxins results in increased adverse health effects.

Damage to the Blood Brain Barrier

Radiofrequency radiation exposure has also been shown to affect the permeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), as well as altering the expression of microRNA within the brain, which researchers state could lead to adverse effects such as neurodegenerative disease. When the BBB is more permeable, more toxins circulating in the blood can reach the brain.

In 2009,  Dr. Leif Salford a neurosurgeon at Lund University Hospital  and Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery presented his published research studies that found blood-brain barrier (BBB) leakage after very very low levels of exposure. These studies have been confirmed and expanded on by researchers from China who concluded, “these results demonstrated that exposure to 900 MHz EMF radiation for 28 days can significantly impair spatial memory and damage BBB permeability in rat by activating the mkp-1/ERK pathway.” Decades ago, Dr. Allen Freys 1975 research found exposure impacted  BBB permeability. His published article explains how these important findings were followed by suppression, misinformation and a shutdown of government funded research in the United States.

Dr. Seyhan and her team from Gazi University have published multiple studies assessing the impacts of radiofrequency radiation on the blood brain barrier as well as on DNA oxidative damage within the brain. Results indicate an increase in permeability and disruption of the BBB integrity following 20 minutes of RFR exposure at levels below the international limits. Furthermore, rats exposed to RFR simulating a 3G-mobile phone for 10 days (6h/day) showed increased DNA oxidative brain damage compared to controls.  In 2012, Dr. Seyhan presented these findings at the National Press Club alongside five acclaimed experts and researchers.

DNA Damage

In 2016 and 2017, the National Toxicology Program released findings of  genotoxic effects in various brain regions of mice and rats exposed to daily low levels of radiofrequency radiation. These research findings parallel  previous research studies that have found DNA breaks after RF exposure. For a review of research on genotoxicity we also recommend Dr. Lai’s  “Evidence For Genotoxic Effects” in the Bioinitiative 2012 which shows that the majority of research studies have found an effect.

Please see below some examples of research that has found a neurotoxic effect after exposure to radiofrequency wireless radiation.

Research Studies:

Poulletier de Gannes F, et al. “Effects of GSM and UMTS mobile telephony signals on neuron degeneration and blood-brain barrier permeation in the rat brain.” Sci Rep 7.15496 (2017).

  • “In the present work, BBB permeability in the whole rat brain increased significantly 50 days after repeated exposures: 3-fold for GSM and 2.4-fold for UMTS at 13 W/kg. A similar significant effect was seen in the whole brain with GSM-1800 at 0.26 W/kg. However, while the mean number of spots was quite similar at different BASAR levels, their distribution among the animals varied. For example, 20% of the 0.026 W/kg rats had between 4 and 5.5 spots, versus 45% of the 13 W/kg rats (data not shown). Thus, the effect was much stronger and consistent at 13 W/kg than at 0.026 W/kg or 0.26 W/kg. It is also noteworthy that the highest albumin levels were comparable to the highest background levels in cage-control rats (Fig. 3).”

Deniz, Omur Gulsum, et al. “Effects of short and long term electromagnetic fields exposure on the human hippocampus.” Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure (2017). doi: 10.1016/j.jmau.2017.07.001.

  • Analysis of the spectroscopic results revealed no significant difference in specific metabolites between the groups (p > 0.05). There was also no significant difference in terms of hippocampal volume between the groups (p > 0.05). In contrast, the results of the stroop and digit span (backward) neurocognitive tests of high exposure group for evaluating attention were significantly poorer from low exposure group (p < 0.05).
  • “Based on these results, we conclude that a lack of attention and concentration may occur in subjects who talk on mobile phones for longer times, compared to those who use phones relatively less.”

Altun, Gamze, et al. “Protective effects of melatonin and omega-3 on the hippocampus and the cerebellum of adult Wistar albino rats exposed to electromagnetic fields.” Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure , 2017.

  • Significant cell loss in the CA1 and CA2 regions of hippocampus were observed in the EMF compared to other groups (p < 0.01). In the CA3 region of the EMF + ω3, a significant cell increase was found compared to other groups (p < 0.01). Granular cell loss was observed in the dentate gyrus of the EMF compared to the Cont (p < 0.01). EMF + ω3 has more granular cells in the cerebellum than the Cont, EMF + Mel (p < 0.01). Significant Purkinje cell loss was found in the cerebellum of EMF group compared to the other (p < 0.01). EMF + Mel and EMF + ω3 showed the same protection compared to the Cont (p > 0.05).
  • The passive avoidance test showed that entrance latency into the dark compartment was significantly shorter in the EMF (p < 0.05). Additionally, EMF had a higher serum enzyme activity than the other groups (p < 0.01).
  • “In conclusion, our analyses confirm that EMF may lead to cellular damage in the hippocampus and the cerebellum, and that Mel and ω3 may have neuroprotective effects.”

Kim, Ju Hwan, et al. “Long-term exposure to 835 MHz RF-EMF induces hyperactivity, autophagy and demyelination in the cortical neurons of mice.” Scientific Reports, vol. 7, no. 41129, 2017.

  • Induction of autophagy genes and production of proteins including LC3B-II and Beclin1 were increased and accumulation of autolysosome was observed in neuronal cell bodies. However, proapoptotic factor Bax was down-regulted in the cerebral cortex. Importantly, we found that RF-EMF exposure led to myelin sheath damage and mice displayed hyperactivity-like behaviour.
  • “The data suggest that autophagy may act as a protective pathway for the neuronal cell bodies in the cerebral cortex during radiofrequency exposure. The observations that neuronal cell bodies remained structurally stable but demyelination was induced in cortical neurons following prolonged RF-EMF suggests a potential cause of neurological or neurobehavioural disorders.”

Sharma, Archana, et al. “Ten gigahertz microwave radiation impairs spatial memory, enzymes activity, and histopathology of developing mice brain.” Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 2017.

  • Body weight result showed significant changes immediately after treatment, whereas non-significant changes were observed in mice attaining 6 weeks of age. Several other endpoints like brain weight, lipid peroxidation, glutathione, protein, catalase, and superoxide dismutase were also found significantly (p < 0.05) altered in mice whole brain. Moreover, statistically significant (p < 0.001) effect was investigated in spatial memory of the animals, in learning to locate the position of platform in Morris water maze test. Significant alteration in histopathological parameters (qualitative and quantitative) was also observed in CA1 region of the hippocampus, cerebral cortex, and ansiform lobule of cerebellum.


Pall, Martin L. “Microwave frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) produce widespread neuropsychiatric effects including depression.” Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy 75 (2016): 43-51.

doi: 10.1016/j.jchemneu.2015.08.001.

  • Two U.S. government reports from the 1970s to 1980s provide evidence for many neuropsychiatric effects of non-thermal microwave EMFs, based on occupational exposure studies. 18 more recent epidemiological studies, provide substantial evidence that microwave EMFs from cell/mobile phone base stations, excessive cell/mobile phone usage and from wireless smart meters can each produce similar patterns of neuropsychiatric effects, with several of these studies showing clear dose–response relationships. Lesser evidence from 6 additional studies suggests that short wave, radio station, occupational and digital TV antenna exposures may produce similar neuropsychiatric effects.
  • Among the more commonly reported changes are sleep disturbance/insomnia, headache, depression/depressive symptoms, fatigue/tiredness, dysesthesia, concentration/attention dysfunction, memory changes, dizziness, irritability, loss of appetite/body weight, restlessness/anxiety, nausea, skin burning/tingling/dermographism and EEG changes.

Wyde, Michael, et al. “Report of Partial findings from the National Toxicology Program Carcinogenesis Studies of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation in Hsd: Sprague Dawley® SD rats (Whole Body Exposure).” bioRxiv, 055699, 2016. (National Toxicology Program Video Presentation that includes genotoxicity results June 2016)

  • Increased incidence of gliomas – a rare, aggressive, and highly malignant brain cancer – as well as schwannomas (a rare tumor of the nerve sheath) of the heart were found in both sexes but reached statistical significance only in males.
  • DNA damage was significantly increased in the frontal cortex of male mice from CDMA and GSM cell phone radiation, peripheral leukocytes of female mice from CDMA only, and the hippocampus of male rats from CDMA only.
  • Link to the presentation of National Toxicology Program data on the genotoxicity of  cell phone radiation in rats and mice at the annual meeting of the Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society held in Raleigh, North Carolina from September 9-13, 2017.


Tang, Jun, et al. “Exposure to 900MHz electromagnetic fields activates the mkp-1/ERK pathway and causes blood-brain barrier damage and cognitive impairment in rats.” Brain Research, vol. 1601, 2015, pp. 92-101.

  • Researchers found that the frequency of crossing platforms and the percentage of time spent in the target quadrant were lower in rats exposed to EMF for 28 days than in rats exposed to EMF for 14 days and unexposed rats. Moreover, 28 days of EMF exposure induced cellular edema and neuronal cell organelle degeneration in the rat. In addition, damaged BBB permeability, which resulted in albumin and HO-1 extravasation were observed in the hippocampus and cortex.

Dasdag et al. “Effects Of 2.4 Ghz Radiofrequency Radiation Emitted From Wi-Fi Equipment On microRna Expression In Brain Tissue.” International Journal of Radiation Biology, vol. 16, 2015, pp. 1-26.

  • The significant effects on microRNAs observed in this study were found from Wi-Fi exposure that was well below the legal limit. CONCLUSION: Long term exposure of 2.4 GHz RF may lead to adverse effects such as neurodegenerative brain diseases originated from the alteration of some miRNAs expression.

Roggeveen S, et al. EEG changes due to experimentally induced 3G mobile phone radiation. PLoS One,  vol. 10, no. 6, 2015.

  • Significant radiation effects were found for the alpha, slowbeta, fastbeta, and gamma bands. When analyzed separately, ear location of the phone was associated with significant results, while chest placement was not.
  • The results support the notion that EEG alterations are associated with mobile phone usage and that the effect is dependent on site of placement. Further studies are required to demonstrate the physiological relevance of these findings.

Zarei et al. A Challenging Issue in the Etiology of Speech Problems: The Effect of Maternal Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields on Speech Problems in the Offspring. Journal of Biomedical and Physical Engineering, vol. 5, no. 3, 2015, pp. 151-4.

  • Researchers found a significant association between either the call time (P=0.002) or history of mobile phone use (months used) and speech problems in the offspring (P=0.003). However, other exposures had no effect on the occurrence of speech problems.

Bin Lv, et al. The alteration of spontaneous low frequency oscillations caused by acute electromagnetic fields exposure. Clinical Neurophysiology, vol. 125, no. 2, 2014, pp. 277-86.

  • Researchers found a decreased ALFF value around in left superior temporal gyrus, left middle temporal gyrus, right superior temporal gyrus, right medial frontal gyrus and right paracentral lobule after the real exposure. And the decreased fALFF value was also detected in right medial frontal gyrus and right paracentral lobule.
  • The study provided the evidences that 30min LTE RF-EMF exposure modulated the spontaneous low frequency fluctuations in some brain regions.

Júnior, L.C., et al. Behavior and memory evaluation of Wistar rats exposed to 1·8 GHz radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation. Neurological Research, vol. 36, no. 1, 2014.

  • Frequency of rearing was increased by 193.3%, revealing an increase in exploratory activity of the animals, which is also related to anxiety, depression, and stressful behavior.
  • “Our data corroborate that reported by Narayanan et al., 21 who showed in 2012 that animals exposed to mobile phone radiation had an increased frequency of rearing.”

Qiao S, et al. Reduction of Phosphorylated Synapsin I (Ser-553) Leads to Spatial Memory Impairment by Attenuating GABA Release after Microwave Exposure in Wistar Rats. PLoS ONE, vol. 9, no. 4, 2014.

  • In the rat experiments, there was a decrease in spatial memory performance after microwave exposure. Both microwave exposure and p-Syn I silencing reduced GABA release and maximal reduction was found for the combination of the two, indicating a synergetic effect.
  • p-Syn I (ser-553) was found to play a key role in the impaired GABA release and cognitive dysfunction that was induced by microwave exposure.

Razavinasab M, K. Moazzami and M. Shabani. Maternal mobile phone exposure alters intrinsic electrophysiological properties of CA1 pyramidal neurons in rat offspring. Toxicology and Industrial Health, vol. 30, no. 2, 2014, pp. 101-96.

  • The results of the passive avoidance and Morris water maze assessment of learning and memory performance showed that phone exposure significantly altered learning acquisition and memory retention in male and female rats compared with the control rats.
  • “Our results suggest that exposure to mobile phones adversely affects the cognitive performance of both female and male offspring rats using behavioral and electrophysiological techniques.”

Redmayne M, Johansson O. Could myelin damage from radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure help explain the functional impairment electrohypersensitivity? A review of the evidence. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, vol. 17, no. 5, 2014, pp. 247-58.

  • Overall, evidence from in vivo and in vitro and epidemiological studies suggests an association between RF-EMF exposure and either myelin deterioration or a direct impact on neuronal conduction, which may account for many electrohypersensitivity symptoms. The most vulnerable are likely to be those in utero through to at least mid-teen years, as well as ill and elderly individuals.

Saikhedkar N, et al. Effects of mobile phone radiation (900 MHz radiofrequency) on structure and functions of rat brain. Neurological Research, vol. 2, no. 6, 2014, pp. 2499-504.

  • “Our findings indicate extensive neurodegeneration on exposure to radio waves. Increased production of reactive oxygen species due to exhaustion of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants and increased lipid peroxidation are indicating extensive neurodegeneration in selective areas of CA1, CA3, DG, and cerebral cortex. This extensive neuronal damage results in alterations in behavior related to memory and learning.”

Jing J, et al. “The influence of microwave radiation from cellular phone on fetal rat brain. Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, vol. 31, no. 1, 2012, pp. 57-66.

  • Significant content differences were found in  superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), malondialdehyde (MDA), noradrenaline (NE), dopamine (DA) after fetal  brains were assayed.
  • “Through this study, we concluded that receiving a certain period of microwave radiation from cellular phones during pregnancy has certain harm on fetal rat brains.”

Sirav B, and N. Seyhan. Effects of radiofrequency radiation exposure on blood-brain barrier permeability in male and female rats.Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, vol. 30, no. 4, 2011, pp. 253-60.

  • A significant increase in albumin was found in the brains of the RF-exposed male rats when compared to sham-exposed male brains.
  • Radio frequency radiation “at levels below the international limits can affect the vascular permeability in the brain of male rats. The possible risk of RFR exposure in humans is a major concern for the society.”

Volkow, N.D., et al. Effects of cell phone radiofrequency signal exposure on brain glucose metabolism. Journal of the American Medical Association, vol. 305, no. 8, 2011, pp. 808-13.

  • In healthy participants and compared with no exposure, 50-minute cell phone exposure was associated with increased brain glucose metabolism in the region closest to the antenna.

Maskey, Dhiraj, et al. “Effect of 835 MHz radiofrequency radiation exposure on calcium binding proteins in the hippocampus of the mouse brain.”Brain Research, no. 1313, 2010, pp. 232-41.

  • Body weights did not change significantly. CB immunoreactivity (IR) displayed moderate staining of cells in the cornu ammonis (CA) areas and prominently stained granule cells. CR IR revealed prominently stained pyramidal cells with dendrites running perpendicularly in the CA area. Exposure for 1 month produced almost complete loss of pyramidal cells in the CA1 area.
  • CaBP differences could cause changes in cellular Ca(2+)levels, which could have deleterious effect on normal hippocampal functions concerned with neuronal connectivity and integration.

Nittby H, et al. Effects of microwave radiation upon the mammalian blood-brain barrier. European Journal of Oncology, vol. 5, 2010, pp. 333-55.

  • EMF radiation leads to increased permeability of the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) at non-thermal exposure levels.Damaging effects from radiofrequency EMF upon neurons has been shown after 28 days and 50 days.
  • “The human BBB is very similar to the rodent BBB… it is our sincere belief, that it is more probable than unlikely, that non-thermal EMF from mobile phones and base stations do have effects upon the human brain.

Sonmez, O.F., et al. “Purkinje cell number decreases in the adult female rat cerebellum following exposure to 900 MHz electromagnetic field.”Brain Research, vol. 1356, 2010, pp. 95-101.

  • Results showed that the total number of Purkinje cells in the cerebellum of the EMFG was significantly lower than those of CG (p< 0.004) and SG (p< 0.002). In addition, there was no significant difference at the 0.05 level between the rats’ body and brain weights in the EMFG and CG or SG. Therefore, it is suggested that long duration exposure to 900 MHz EMF leads to decreases of Purkinje cell numbers in the female rat cerebellum

Bas, O., et al. “900 MHz electromagnetic field exposure affects qualitative and quantitative features of hippocampal pyramidal cells in adult rat.” Brain Research, no. 1265, 2009, pp. 178–85.

  • A statistically significant decrease in the pyramidal cells of the hippocampus and an increase in dark cells.

Bas O, et al. Chronic prenatal exposure to the 900 megahertz electromagnetic field induces pyramidal cell loss in the hippocampus of newborn rats. Toxicology and Industrial Health, vol. 25, 2009, pp. 377–84.

  • Results: A significant reduction in the total number of pyramidal cells in the cornu ammonis of the hippocampus, which involves short-term memory and learning.
  • Sixteen-week old rats are comparable to the age of human teenagers.

Naziroğlu M. and Gumral. Modulator effects of L-carnitine and selenium on wireless devices (2.45 GHz)-induced oxidative stress and electroencephalography records in brain of rat. International Journal of Radiation Biology, vol. 85, no. 8, 2009, pp. 680-9.

  • Rats exposed to 2.45 GHz   60 min/day for 28 days had lower cortex brain vitamin A (p < 0.05), vitamin C (p < 0.01) and vitamin E (p < 0.05) concentrations.

Odaci E, O. Bas  and S. Kaplan. Effects of prenatal exposure to a 900 megahertz electromagnetic field on the dentate gyrus of rats: a stereological and histopathological study. Brain Research, no. 1238, 2008,  224–9.

  • Prenatal exposure caused a progressive postnatal decline in the number of granule cells of dentate gyrus of the hippocampus of offspring.

Leszczynski, Dariusz, et al. “Non‐thermal activation of the hsp27/p38MAPK stress pathway by mobile phone radiation in human endothelial cells: Molecular mechanism for cancer‐and blood‐brain barrier‐related effects.” Differentiation, vol. 70, no. 2‐3, 2002, pp. 120-9.

  • Changes in the overall pattern of protein phosphorylation suggest that mobile phone radiation activates a variety of cellular signal transduction pathways, among them the hsp27/p38MAPK stress response pathway. Based on the known functions of hsp27, we put forward the hypothesis that mobile phone radiation-induced activation of hsp27 may (i) facilitate the development of brain cancer by inhibiting the cytochrome c/caspase-3 apoptotic pathway and (ii) cause an increase in bloodbrain barrier permeability through stabilization of endothelial cell stress fibers.
  • “We postulate that these events, when occurring repeatedly over a long period of time, might become a health hazard because of the possible accumulation of brain tissue damage. Furthermore, our hypothesis suggests that other brain damaging factors may co-participate in mobile phone radiation-induced effects.”

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<p><a href=”″>VIDEO: Dr. Suleyman Kaplan addresses Commonwealth Club of California, June 22, 2015</a> from <a href=””>ElectromagneticHealth.Org</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a>.</p>



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