Radiation emitted by mobile phones affects brain function, Australian research suggests.
Scientists at Swinburne University of Technology's Brain Sciences Institute in Melbourne studied the performances of 120 healthy volunteers on a series of psychological tests during half an hour of exposure to mobile phone emissions.
They compared the results to those collected when the same volunteers were tested during a "sham" condition, in which the mobile phone was not emitting radiation.
The study was designed so neither the scientists, nor the participants, were aware when the mobile phone was turned on.
Lead researcher Con Stough said they found the subjects' reaction times and information processing were impaired by the mobile phone emissions.
"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," Professor Stough said.
"Mobile phones do seem to affect brain function. They seem to be fairly small effects but nevertheless, something's happening."
The research was published in this month's edition of the journal, Neuropsychologia.
Prof Stough said research by the institute, which was yet to be published, suggested the effects 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 in an interview.
Elderly people were also apparently more sensitive to the effects than younger users.
Nevertheless, Prof Stough is not about to give away his own mobile phone.
"It's such a part of modern society ... and we haven't established that there's negative health consequences. That's a different type of study.
"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."
Prof Stough said if people were concerned about the issue and they still wanted to use a mobile phone, they should buy an ear piece.
"The further you get the phone away from the brain, the less radiation it absorbs," he said.
As for any use of mobile phones in cars -- hands free or not -- Prof Stough is against it.
"I think they should be banned from cars," he said.
The study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
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