BACKGROUND: Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by mobile phones had been shown to increase cortical excitability in healthy subjects following 45 min of continuous exposure on the ipsilateral hemisphere. OBJECTIVE: Using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), the current study assessed the effects of acute exposure to mobile phone EMFs on the cortical excitability in patients with focal epilepsy. METHODS: Ten patients with cryptogenic focal epilepsy originating outside the primary motor area (M1) were studied. Paired-pulse TMS were applied to the M1 of both the hemisphere ipsilateral (IH) and contralateral (CH) to the epileptic focus before and immediately after real/sham exposure to the GSM-EMFs (45 min). The TMS study was carried out in all subjects in three different experimental sessions (IH and CH exposure, sham), 1 week apart, according to a crossover, double-blind and counter-balanced paradigm. RESULTS: The present study clearly demonstrated that an acute and relatively prolonged exposure to GSM-EMFs modulates cortical excitability in patients affected by focal epilepsy; however, in contrast to healthy subjects, these effects were evident only after EMFs exposure over the hemisphere contralateral to the epileptic focus (CH). They were characterized by a significant cortical excitability increase in the exposed hemisphere paired with slight excitability decrease in the other one (IH). Both sham and real EMFs exposure of the IH did not affect brain excitability. CONCLUSION: Present results suggest a significant interaction between the brain excitability changes induced by EMFs and the epileptic focus, which eliminated the excitability enhancing effects of EMFs evident only in the CH.
- phone emissions