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Open AccessReview

Can Low-Level Exposure to Radiofrequency Fields Effect Cognitive Behaviour in Laboratory Animals? A Systematic Review of the Literature Related to Spatial Learning and Place Memory

1
Public Health England, Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, Chilton, Oxfordshire OX11 0RQ, UK
2
Health Council of the Netherlands, P.O. Box 16052, 2500 BB The Hague, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(9), 1607; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16091607
Received: 29 March 2019 / Revised: 29 April 2019 / Accepted: 4 May 2019 / Published: 8 May 2019
This review considers whether exposure to low-level radiofrequency (RF) fields, mostly associated with mobile phone technology, can influence cognitive behaviour of laboratory animals. Studies were nominated for inclusion using an a priori defined protocol with preselected criteria, and studies were excluded from analysis if they did not include sufficient details about the exposure, dosimetry or experimental protocol, or if they lacked a sham-exposed group. Overall, 62 studies were identified that have investigated the effects of RF fields on spatial memory and place learning and have been published since 1993. Of these, 17 studies were excluded, 20 studies reported no significant field-related effects, 21 studies reported significant impairments or deficits, and four studies reported beneficial consequences. The data do not suggest whether these outcomes are related to specific differences in exposure or testing conditions, or simply represent chance. However, some studies have suggested possible molecular mechanisms for the observed effects, but none of these has been substantiated through independent replication. Further behavioural studies could prove useful to resolve this situation, and it is suggested that these studies should use a consistent animal model with standardized exposure and testing protocols, and with detailed dosimetry provided by heterogeneous, anatomically-realistic animal models. View Full-Text
Keywords: radiofrequency electromagnetic fields; spatial learning; memory; rodents radiofrequency electromagnetic fields; spatial learning; memory; rodents
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Sienkiewicz, Z.; van Rongen, E. Can Low-Level Exposure to Radiofrequency Fields Effect Cognitive Behaviour in Laboratory Animals? A Systematic Review of the Literature Related to Spatial Learning and Place Memory. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 1607.

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