Mobile phoneThe rapid development of information and communication technologies (ICT) is accompanied by an increased exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields in daily life. The most significant source of this radiation is the mobile phone when this is held close to or against the head. Numerous studies have already been conducted in an attempt to identify any health effects, although the results remain inconclusive.
Iconic memoryFrom the recent Swiss research it appears that cumulative exposure of the brain to electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones over a year can have a negative effect on the development of the iconic memory (visual sensory memory) of adolescents; this is a confirmation of the conclusion of a 2015 study.
Right brain hemisphereThe visual memory is mainly located in the right hemisphere of the brain; for adolescents who held their mobile phone to their right ear, the effect of the RF radiation was more pronounced. This could indicate that the RF radiation that is absorbed by the brain is indeed responsible for the observed association.
Other aspects of wireless communication, such as the sending of text messages or the playing of games, cause only a marginal exposure of the brain to RF radiation; no association could be made with the development of memory.
Other factorsThe researchers point out that more research is required to exclude the influence of other factors. For example, there is the possibility that the research is affected by puberty – which affects both mobile phone use and the participant’s cognitive and behavioural state.
In any case, a recommendation from the researchers is to use headphones when making a phone call (or use the speaker).