BACKGROUND: A large number of studies explored the biological effects of extremely low-frequency (0-300 Hz) magnetic fields (ELF-MFs) on nervous system both at cellular and at system level in the intact human brain reporting several functional changes. However, the results of different studies are quite variable and the mechanisms of action of ELF-MFs are still poorly defined. The aim of this paper is to provide a comprehensive review of the effects of ELF-MFs on nervous system. METHODS: We convened a workgroup of researchers in the field to review and discuss the available data about the nervous system effects produced by the exposure to ELF-MFs. MAIN FINDINGS/DISCUSSION: We reviewed several methodological, experimental and clinical studies and discussed the findings in five sections. The first section analyses the devices used for ELF-MF exposure. The second section reviews the contribution of the computational methods and models for investigating the interaction between ELF-MFs and neuronal systems. The third section analyses the experimental data at cellular and tissue level showing the effects on cell membrane receptors and intracellular signaling and their correlation with neural stem cell proliferation and differentiation. The fourth section reviews the studies performed in the intact human brain evaluating the changes produced by ELF-MFs using neurophysiological and neuropsychological methods. The last section shows the limits and shortcomings of the available data, evidences the key challenges in the field and tracks directions for future research.
- magnetic fields
- nervous sistem