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Cell Phone Use Tied To Changes In Brain Activity

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the hi-tara dept.

Cellphones 191

Takichi writes "The New York Times is reporting on research linking cell phone use and increased metabolism, with high statistical significance, in the areas of the brain close to the antenna. The study was led by Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and is published (abstract) in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The impact, good or bad, of the increased stimulation is speculative, but this research shows there is a direct relationship between cell phone signals and the brain that warrants further study."

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191 comments

Unsure (3, Funny)

MikeDirnt69 (1105185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289142)

The impact, good or bad, of the increased stimulation is speculative (...)

I'm speechless!

Re:Unsure (0)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289162)

Damn, all that mobile phone stimulation has fried your speech center! Burn all phones! Or just text instead!

Re:Unsure (1, Informative)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289226)

It doesn't look like they even used a control group of people doing nothing, people just talking, people talking with the phone on the other side of their head, etc. From the pics all you can tell is that basically a lot of the brain is more active after an hour on the phone, not just the spot next to the antenna. Why are researchers so clueless?

Re:Unsure (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289252)

Hmm okay actually having read the article and not just looking at the picture, the results are more interesting, but I'd also like to know what happened if they tried the same thing with the left phone rather than the right. It could be something as simple as the phone gets warmer, increasing the rate of chemical reactions on that side of the brain.

Re:Unsure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289284)

If you read the BBC article (which has more info) it actually explains that there was a phone on each ear, with one on (either left or right) and in all cases muted.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12541117

Thanks

Re:Unsure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289326)

It could be something as simple as the phone gets warmer, increasing the rate of chemical reactions on that side of the brain.

From TFA (stolen from another AC [slashdot.org]):

They said the activity was unlikely to be associated with heat from the phone because it occurred near the antenna rather than where the phone touched the head.

Re:Unsure (1, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289532)

It could be something as simple as the phone gets warmer, increasing the rate of chemical reactions on that side of the brain.

From TFA (stolen from another AC [slashdot.org]):

They said the activity was unlikely to be associated with heat from the phone because it occurred near the antenna rather than where the phone touched the head.

Not relevant. Microwave amplifiers are not known for high efficiencies. So most of the battery energy goes into heating the handset circuit board up. The rest goes into the antenna, of which some fraction will go into simple thermal RF tissue heating (see radio-diathermy or just diathermy).

Dumping a couple milliwatts of RF generated thermal energy into the side of your head has about the same effect as dumping a couple milliwatts of natural gas generated thermal energy into the side of your head, in other words something measurable but irrelevant, compared to sunlight, etc.

Curious they used cellphones. You'd think cordless would be similar power level, frequencies, and much cheaper, but probably not as good for scare mongering and FUD...

Re:Unsure (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289368)

There is a real disconnect between the single picture and the article text. The picture posted in the NYT shows increased diffused uptake, perhaps a predominance on the right side (the side with the active cell phone) but it's anything but obvious. From all of the chatter surrounding the article, I hope to hell that the actual quantitative results are better founded and the picture just isn't very useful.

TFA claims that the study is high quality and if they can get reasonable results from 47 people, they had to see a substantive difference. Still and all, it's a relatively easy experiment to repeat and I assume that is in progress as we speak. I'd like to see some better controls (both left and right active, a determination of how repeatable the fMRI values are in a given person over a couple of hours just to name two off the top of my head).

As everyone has been taking great pains to note, this doesn't show anything but a putative effect of putting an active cell phone next to your head - it's neither good nor bad and it's not necessarily due to the radio emissions (that's an assumption).

Re:Unsure (5, Informative)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289662)

>>>It doesn't look like they even used a control group of people doing nothing

Yes they did.

>>>people just talking

Yes they did.

>>>people talking with the phone on the other side of their head

Yes they did.
It helps if you actually READ the article, since the researchers tested the phone on both sides of the head, with the phone turned off, and with the phone turned on, and observed the brain only reactived with the phone turned on (and on whichever side it was located).

>>>Why are researchers so clueless?

They are not.
You however are.
Sorry but you posted the post, and I'm just responding in kind.

Re:Unsure (1, Informative)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289830)

Yeah, I might one day learn to RTFA properly. Still, they only tested with the phone on the right side switched on, they didn't do the left. Considering it was far more than just the part near the antennae that was active after the hour with the phone on, I think it would have been better to test both sides, maybe even try the phone at the front too.

Re:Unsure (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290754)

quote from TFA: "Dr. Volkow said that the latest research is preliminary and does not address questions about cancer or other heath issues, but it does raise new questions about potential areas of research to better understand the health implications of increased brain activity resulting from cellphone use."

And what further conclusion do you think one could draw if one did a test with the 'left side switched on' as well?

IMHO, this is obviously piloting for a broader approach to raise funds.

CC.

Re:Unsure (0)

jonniesmokes (323978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290972)

The study is highly suspect. Because it looks like the area they are referring to is the temporal lobe. This is the area involved with hearing and I would not be surprised if putting a muted telephone on one side of the head would increase my brain activity as I strain to hear something. They need to show that if they move the antenna, that the increased activity follows it. This would have been very easy to do, but was not done. Why?

from http://www.neuroskills.com/brain.shtml [neuroskills.com]:
Temporal Lobes: Side of head above ears.
Functions:
        * Hearing ability. Memory acquisition. Some visual perceptions
        * Categorization of objects.

Re:Unsure (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290068)

Well thankfully we know the report is completely bogus because repeatedly over the last decade various slashdotters have rabidly and repeatedly insisted, despite lots and lots of evidence to the contrary, this is impossible because all of the radiation is completely blocked by skin and therefore impossible to interact with anything other than skin.

Goes to show what has become common today, popular ignorance is still ignorance.

Re:Unsure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35290608)

this is impossible because all of the radiation is completely blocked by skin

When people say "non-ionizing" it does not mean what you think it means, as the portion I quoted reveals. Radio spectrum just passes through the skin.

Probably not (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289164)

I bet you the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics this isn't true.

Re:Probably not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289628)

Sure. If you win the bet I'll pay you next year!

*rimshot*

Re:Probably not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35290710)

I bet you the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics this isn't true.

I'll see your Law of the Photoelectric Effect, and raise you Faraday's Law of Induction.

Or in other words, I'm betting that yes the study reveals something is happening.
But No the study does NOT say anything about this being related to the radiation, at least not directly. Even though the authors are apparently trying to make that link.

Best part is, if I win then we're one step closer to a true full-neural feedback interface.

or maybe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289172)

people with faster metabolisms get more done, use their phone more often. people with slow metabolisms are sloths.

Insects and trees (0, Offtopic)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289304)

The lives of insects scurrying around in darkness are measured in days, the lives of trees basking in sunshine are measured in centuries.

Re:Insects and trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289494)

Bodes well for many of us, if we can substitute beer and computer monitors for sunshine.

Re:or maybe (1)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289390)

The phones were on mute at the time of the study. And there was a switched-off phone strapped to the other side of their head. Supposedly this stopped the participants from knowing which was on, but the experiment lasted 50 minutes, so I'd imagine the "on" phone would be hotter if nothing else.

Re:or maybe (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289654)

And how exactly that has to do with the article? If you read the abstract, they took the subjects, put a cellphone near each ear. Measured the metabolism of brain tissue (using PET-FDG) when both were OFF and when only the right phone was ON. The phones were muted at all times. This way they got control values of one ear against the other and of the same region when the cellphone was ON versus OFF.
Now re-read your comment and try to apply it to the research.
They did a seemingly well-designed research with a very elegant setup. Nice results, and even they do not assume any adverse effect of the finding. The researchers only report what they found. No unsubstantiated assumptions or FUD.

Re:or maybe (1)

goose-incarnated (1145029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290536)

While I certainly don't side with the poster you replied to, I would've been happier if it were double-blind. As it was, the *researchers* knew which phone was on and which wasn't. They should have simply randomly switched one phone on, and not standardised on the right.

If you miss this post you'll get brain cancer! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289182)

The link to not [POPUP] reading this post and getting cancer isn't fully [AD] analyzed and might be actually both ways. Also we're [BANNER] not sure why would a post prevent or cause cancer. Technically [POPUP] we're just at the start. We'd appreciate if someone funds our study into the [AD] posts-cancer link.

I hope you feel better informed. Thanks for your time.

Re:If you miss this post you'll get brain cancer! (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289560)

Yes this is a POOR article. The Summary I submitted was better:

LINK - http://sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/70134/title/Cell_phones_may_affect_brain_metabolism [sciencenews.org]

"47 participants had pairs of Samsung cell phones strapped to their heads, one on each side. The phone on the left ear was turned off, while the one on the right received a 50-minute recorded message. This phone was kept muted so that the subject didnâ(TM)t know which phone was on, and also to prevent stimulation of the brainâ(TM)s hearing center.

"A few minutes after the call, a PET scan revealed that brain regions next to the working phone had higher levels of glucose metabolism. âoeThe human brain is sensitive to the electromagnetic radiation that is emitted from cell phones,â says study coauthor Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, MD. The increase in brain metabolism observed in the experiment may be an underestimate, because cell phones emit more radiation when a person is talking.

Nothing new... (1)

Mad Giraffe (2000178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289186)

Every once in a while a study shows up telling us that cell phones and other devices are either good or bad. Sure, it does have an impact on our bodies, but I would like to find out more info than "Well it does something...".

Re:Nothing new... (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289680)

Well, usually science starts with finding something and then finding what it does and later why it does that. You usually don't find a single study that finds a phenomenon, shows its effects and what causes it. When you do find such a study, we usually criticize it for bad science and jumping to conclusions.
The researchers at this study found some nice results (scientifically speaking) and dis not resort to FUD to garner more attention. It's now up to further studies to find out the effects of these findings and what causes them.

Meh (2)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289198)

Why bother?
With all that electromagnetic pollution our great-grandchildren will be born with at least three arms anyway.

Could it be something else? (1, Interesting)

w_dragon (1802458) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289202)

Too lazy to RTFA, did they move the antenna away from the speaker, or is it possible that the sound waves or even the brain interpreting the sound from the ear, is responsible for the increase?,

Re:Could it be something else? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289222)

The randomized study, conducted in 2009, asked 47 participants to undergo positron emission tomography — or PET — scans, which measure brain glucose metabolism, a marker of brain activity. Each study subject was fitted with a cellphone on each ear and then underwent two 50-minute scans.

During one scan, the cellphones were turned off, but during the other scan, the phone on the right ear was activated to receive a call from a recorded message, although the sound was turned off to avoid auditory stimulation.

Whether the phone was on or off did not affect the overall metabolism of the brain, but the scans did show a 7 percent increase in activity in the part of the brain closest to the antenna. The finding was highly statistically significant, the researchers said. They said the activity was unlikely to be associated with heat from the phone because it occurred near the antenna rather than where the phone touched the head.

They thought of that.

Re:Could it be something else? (3, Insightful)

Zakabog (603757) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289288)

The call was muted to avoid any issues with the sound causing an increase in brain activity.

What i'd like to know is how close was the phone to the ear? They said the part of the brain closest to the antenna showed the increase in activity but if the phone is that close to the head then it seems entirely possible that it was affected by the heat ahone generates in a 50 minute phone call.

I feel like they should redo the experiment, actually do something where the antenna is seperate from the phone body and next to the brain. Also why not test multiple scenarios, left phone on in a call, right phone on in a call, both phones in a call, both phones off, both phones on, etc. This experiment just tested both phones on, both phones off and right phone on. It seems kind of half assed.

Re:Could it be something else? (4, Informative)

spikenerd (642677) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289456)

They were quite deliberate to point out that they used a phone with the antenna in the mouthpiece, so that it would be separated from sources of heat, and that the the increased consumption of glucose was measured in regions near the antenna, and not so much near sources of heat. They claimed this was a significant point because the FDA's current position is that heat is entirely responsible for all reactions that have yet been measured. (Disclaimer: I'm just repeating stuff from articles about it--I didn't read the actual study.)

Re:Could it be something else? (2)

xded (1046894) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289690)

it seems entirely possible that it was affected by the heat ahone generates in a 50 minute phone call [...] they should redo the experiment, actually do something where the antenna is seperate from the phone body and next to the brain.

The problem would then be that the microwaves themselves will generate heat in the brain, leading to some metabolic perturbation.

Supposing our body does not contain "rectifying" biological structures (an "organic diode") able to work at nanosecond time constants, can we please stop discovering dielectric heating [microwaves101.com] and investigate whether the heating itself affects our brain?

Re:Could it be something else? (1)

CyberDruid (201684) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290096)

There should have been a placebo group holding an equally hot phone not making any calls, just to rule out stuff like: heat, the actual holding of the phone, psychological effects, etc. Everything is better when it is double-blind. I didn't read the article, though :).

Re:Could it be something else? (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289596)

>>>Too lazy to RTFA, did they move the antenna away from the speaker, or is it possible that the sound waves or even the brain interpreting the sound from the ear, is responsible for the increase?,

Too lazy to AYQ.
(shrug)
Okay fine. The sound was muted. It said that ITFA.

Cell phones are making us smarter! (2)

fezzzz (1774514) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289224)

Cell phones are making us smarter and here's the proof! I always knew that first world countries excelled due to an unknown unfair advantage!

Other explanations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289232)

I find myself wondering if listening for an hour also effects the part of the brain located near the ear. I wonder if there was any control for this, such as comparing the brain scans of people who talk on a land line for an hour.

maybe the heat? (1)

Dr. Tom (23206) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289262)

The end of the abstract points out that no clinical significance of this finding is known.
It seems to me that the result could be caused by the slight heating of the brain due to absorption of some of the RF energy. I wonder what would happen if they re-did the study but used earmuffs instead of cell phones.

doesn't surprise me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289286)

how many times have you thought your phone vibrated when it actually didn't? our brains are wired for sensory attention and unfortunately cellphones are causing a lot of false positives! we're hooked!

"Knowing when its about to ring" (3, Interesting)

polyp2000 (444682) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289298)

I've lost count of the time I've looked at my mobile seconds before it is about to ring.
This is completely unscientific, but I am convinced my brain has "learned" to recognise the
electromagnetic interference caused by the phone just before its about to ring or receive a message.

Re:"Knowing when its about to ring" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289332)

There can be cues from your environment, too, such as cracks and popping noise in nearby loudspeakers... That you do not acknowledge consciously but integrate into your thought patterns.

Re:"Knowing when its about to ring" (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289380)

at night or dusk, i will walk by street lights and they will flicker on or off

i think i've turned into an RF generator

all kidding aside, the street lights DO flicker on or off as i near them. i'm sufficiently spooked about it

Re:"Knowing when its about to ring" (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289500)

it was kind of funny in my home town. I would walk at night along a street, and the lights would turn off as I got under them, then back on again. my father told me later that they sometimes turn some of the lights off intermittently, to save power. that kind of took the romance out of thinking about it...

Re:"Knowing when its about to ring" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289572)

at night or dusk, i will walk by street lights and they will flicker on or off

i think i've turned into an RF generator

all kidding aside, the street lights DO flicker on or off as i near them. i'm sufficiently spooked about it

You are an RF reflector, in the visible spectrum. I recall someone studying this phenomenon and concluding that the light sensors that automatically turn many streetlights on and off are occasionally triggered by movement.

Re:"Knowing when its about to ring" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289406)

It kinda sounds like you are a witch....

Re:"Knowing when its about to ring" (4, Interesting)

gTsiros (205624) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290126)

and do you count the times where you look at your cellphone without it ringing later on?

Re:"Knowing when its about to ring" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35291028)

Many electronic devices emits faint, unintended sounds.

If you can guess when your phone is about to ring, it is a simpler explanation to say that you are hearing sounds like these. The RF may be being turned into sound by the phone itself; that's a whole lot more plausible than the "I can hear radio" explanation.

Such an argument could apply to this study, as well, though it seems a bit of a stretch. If their activity was more centered in the auditory cortex their results would be less compelling.

They correlated (assumed) RF field strength to the PET signal change. Although they had "only" 48 subjects (that's quite a lot for a study like this), they had 25161 voxels per subject. From the paper, their statistics look pretty compelling; they have wide error bars, but the means follow a line as they predict.

I don't know enough about particle physics, but it's conceivable the RF field makes it more likely for the injected fluorodeoxyglucose to decay, or otherwise make it easier for high energy photos to be emitted. It only needs to be a small change, so the relatively low-energy photons (radio waves) emitted by the phone could conceivably have some effect. If this is the case, their results are an artifact. I would repeat the study with EEG, being sure to filter our the RF from the EEG signal. That would help prove it's not an artifact.

Using Your Head (1)

lazarus (2879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289308)

Does anyone actually hold a cell phone up to their head anymore? I certainly did from the early 1990s to about 2005 or so. But now? Using it in the car where I am is illegal so I've got a hands-free there. Often when I am travelling I will communicate via e-mail or text message (because they are the cheaper options). And when I am at my desk I use Skype more than anything else for both chat and calls (so I can still have both hands free for taking notes). I can't remember the last time I used my cell phone in the traditional sense (holding it up to my head for a call).

I have two teenagers both with cell phones and I haven't seen either one of them actually on a "phone call" in years. I rather suspect the practice is coming to and end for the next generation anyway.

Re:Using Your Head (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289696)

Loads of people still talk on the phone for hours, holding it. I can't stand that either and I have a variety of hands free kit to prevent it as well. But judging from all the dipshits I've seen walking down the sidewalk all funny while talking on the phone, or driving like an asshole while talking on the phone (I look at the face of every driver it's convenient to look at in an attempt to gauge their emotional state, so I see if they're holding a phone to their head, and virtually everyone driving while holding up a phone is driving like a dumbshit) I'd say that the practice of holding up a phone and talking is still quite common. Seriously, if people don't even use hands free in the car, I guarantee they don't use it anywhere else.

Re:Using Your Head (1)

lazarus (2879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289778)

Good point. I warrant that the Slashdot crowd probably uses a cell phone in this manner less frequently than the general public. May be a good topic for a poll.

Crappy Study or Crappy Reporting? (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289320)

(or both?)

The article fails to mention that the areas closest to the ear are also the areas associated with speech [wikipedia.org] and auditory processing [wikipedia.org], but the figure in the NYT story is very unclear about the specific location in which the "increased metabolism" occurs. Could it be that there's a 7% increase in metabolism in that part of the brain because the subjects are listening? Or perhaps because they're ignoring the looped recording? (i.e., Could that be the brain's dev/null for speech?)

Furthermore, the one paragraph that might answer those questions is poorly worded and -given the kind of mendacity we've unfortunately become used to these days- suspiciously so. There are only three sentences that describe methodology:

Each study subject was fitted with a cellphone on each ear and then underwent two 50-minute scans. During one scan, the cellphones were turned off, but during the other scan, the phone on the right ear was activated to receive a call from a recorded message, although the sound was turned off to avoid auditory stimulation. Whether the phone was on or off did not affect the overall metabolism of the brain, but the scans did show a 7 percent increase in activity in the part of the brain closest to the antenna.

How horrible is that? Does the third sentence really mean that the increased activity is not correlated to whether the phone is on?? Or did the author really mean "Whether the sound was on or off" instead? No editor worth his or her salt would have let that slip by. Or is this a verbatim quote from the report? If so, this should not have passed peer review. If that sentence accurately reflects the methods and results, then the real conclusion is that we should all be attaching antennae to our heads, forget the transmitters.

All in all, I say FAIL to the NYT (and probably also to JAMA and the NIH but the NYT failed so hard I can't tell).

Re:Crappy Study or Crappy Reporting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289796)

Crappy reading. First, it says the sound was OFF, so that takes your speech and auditory processing out of the picture. And it says that the OVERALL metabolism of the brain was not affected by whether the phone was on or off, but one SPECIFIC part of the brain was affected when the phone was on.

"high statistical significance" (0)

quarrelinastraw (771952) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289328)

Statistical significance is a binary phenomenon, and there is no such thing as "high statistical significance."

That's like claiming that a result is "extremely true" because the contradiction you get by assuming it is "absolutely crazy".

Significance is not and never has been an in indicator of the probability of a theory, It's only an indication that you've passed the an extremely low threshold to make a claim (i.e. your claim is not plima facie absurd).

i'm so ronery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289994)

I reject your assertions a plioli.

PET/MRI and statistics are poor bed partners (3, Interesting)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289336)

This study involved computer based analysis using PET scan data*. Similar studies have often been shown to have overstated or no real statistical significance**. With only 47 participants this study has, in my eyes, about the same validity as the average undergrad study.

Unfortunately tomorrow it will be in all the newspapers to prove that cell phones cause cancer (ironically this study was done with ionising radiation, whose cancer causing effects are well known).

* I am a pysch student and these studies are the ban of my existence. They mostly have the same validity for studying human behaviour as the old method of making shit up based on observation. However they seem much more "sciency" to funding committees.

** http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/57091/title/Odds_Are,_Its_Wrong [sciencenews.org]

Re:PET/MRI and statistics are poor bed partners (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289606)

With only 47 participants this study has, in my eyes, about the same validity as the average undergrad study

47 is actually a very large number for a PET study, where scanning each participant costs a few thousand dollars. Typical PET & fMRI studies scan between 10-20 participants. As always, reliability comes from replication.

Re:PET/MRI and statistics are poor bed partners (1)

gTsiros (205624) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290398)

i'd say 50-100 grand is a small price to pay if we are to even get closer to a conclusion about whether a device used by billions of people is a significant health risk or not.

Re:PET/MRI and statistics are poor bed partners (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289798)

You might also mention this:

Neural correlates of interspecies perspective taking in the post-mortem Atlantic Salmon: An argument for multiple comparisons correction [psu.edu] (PDF)

in which it was demonstrated that brain activity in dead salmon changes in a visualization activity.

However, the point of that study was to show that researchers need to correct for multiple comparisons in their analysis. (Basically, if you start comparing 8000 different regions of the brain, the odds of seeing a false positive is huge, since you're making so many comparisons.) The cell phone study did make corrections for multiple comparisons, however (Bonferroni correction), and so the results must have come from some other factor.

We'll see. I expect there will be more studies on this subject soon, some perhaps testing cell phones on dead Atlantic salmon.

Re:PET/MRI and statistics are poor bed partners (2)

Smegoid (585137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289842)

With only 47 participants this study has, in my eyes, about the same validity as the average undergrad study.

I'd love to know what kind of experimental psychology you do that typically runs so many hundreds of participants that you see 47 subjects as equivalent to an undergrad project.

Re:PET/MRI and statistics are poor bed partners (1)

gTsiros (205624) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290156)

(ironically this study was done with ionising radiation, whose cancer causing effects are well known).

wait, what? how did they get the cellphone to emit ionizing radiation?!

Re:PET/MRI and statistics are poor bed partners (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35290228)

I'm glad you're still an undergrad... you have a lot of learning to do. Try to pay attention in your statistics classes... yeash. You have less credibility than any of these people and chirp them for reasons that only make your own argument weaker.

Re:PET/MRI and statistics are poor bed partners (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290594)

* I am a pysch student and these studies are the ban[sic] of my existence.

Then why are you still here?

Re:PET/MRI and statistics are poor bed partners (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35290714)

I don't think you even read the article. You saw "PET scan," posted some nonsense about "similar studies," linked a generic article about statistical significance and Type I errors, and got modded +5.

If you really think you know so much, put your money where your mouth is, find the specific flaws in their methodology and send a Letter to the Editor into JAMA instead of blowing hot air on /.

If you're right, you could get published in JAMA, for god's sake! Think of it! You'd be the star of your undergraduate psychology department!

Re:PET/MRI and statistics are poor bed partners (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35290806)

I don't think you even read the article. You saw "PET scan," posted some nonsense about "similar studies," and linked a generic article about statistical significance and Type I errors. And got modded +5. "Ionising radiation"? Seriously, guys.

If you really were that smart, you'd put your money where your mouth is, find the specific flaws in their methodology, and write a Letter to the Editor into JAMA.

I mean, think about it. You could get published in JAMA! You'd be the star of your undergraduate psych department.

Merlgarden Spring Resort (-1, Offtopic)

merlgarden (1971364) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289386)

Im Merlyn Mariano and Im the owner of Merlgarden Spring Resort at South Cotabato [weebly.com] Philippines. We have the best lake sebu resorts [weebly.com] and flowing spring water. Enjoy and Feel the beauty of Gods Creation in our Resort.

corepirate nazi astroturfers linked to mindphuking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289398)

these are their haydays. up to 400$ per post. their 'employers' are more desperate to deceive than ever.

well duh, this is how a microwave oven works (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289422)

the question of course is if there is any health significance to minutely cooking your brain. the human body can take certain mechanical, chemical, thermal, radiation, or other abuses, with constant exposure, resulting in no changes whatsoever. while at the same time, other types of the same kind of abuses, to the tiniest of degrees, have serious health consequences

the only thing you can really say is beware anyone who can say for certain that the effect is completely harmless, or definitely harmful. they are liars. the simple truth is, no one knows

BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289436)

This constantly comes up over and over again with no results whatsoever. It's akin to the "cell phones give you brain cancer" yet with now like 300 million cell phones in the US the incidence of brain cancer has not risen. It's BS!

reminds me, when i was a dumb teenager (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289464)

i worked on a tour boat. i would go on the roof of the boat, and lie out in the sun... right under the rotating radar. i said i was a dumb teenager. i wonder if my testicles produce viable sperm...

Could they use a heating pad as a control? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289582)

It seems to me that a warm antennae would heat the area around it. Heat dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow, which looks like higher metabolic rate.

As a control, they could have people hold a warm object like a heating pad close to their heads and check for the indicators of increased metabolic rate.

glucose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35289810)

"scans, which measure brain glucose metabolism, ... show a 7 percent increase in activity in the part of the brain closest to the antenna."

Sweet !!!

All I read is: (1)

drunkennewfiemidget (712572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35289818)

Start holding the cell phone in front of my gut. That should increase that metabolic rate, too, right?

Re:All I read is: (1)

ddd0004 (1984672) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290224)

Yeah I'm getting together a suit made out of old cell phones. I'll call it something catchy and start selling it at 3am on cable channels. Maybe integrate it with a snuggy and shamwow and create the perfect infomercial product, "The Shamsnuggisizer." Now, if I can just find a place to add on a slap-chop.

Depopulation: Wouldn't it be great? (0)

tekrat (242117) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290064)

Too much to hope for: That more than a billion people could be wiped out from cell-phone use. And who would be the first to go? Chatty, useless people who spend all their time talking on the phone and doing nothing useful.

"Oh hi, I'm on a bus"... As if that bit of information is so important, that it must be shared with the caller... and everyone else on the bus listening to this useless person blathering away on a cell phone.

Oh if only! To quiet the world. To end resource waste. To bring the population of the planet down to a reasonable, sustainable number. I remember when there were only 3 billion. There was room to breathe.

Now we are heading towards 9 billion before 2050. There will be wars, famine, water rationing, and massive disasters based on us ravaging the planet in search of resources to sustain such a number.

If only cell-phones could kill a few billion. That would be an amazing way to get out of the disaster we are headed towards. But alas, it's too much to hope for.

We're going to need a good, sustained, nuclear exchange before we really have some progress in that area. And unfortunately, that's just going to leave even less resources for the survivors. Cell phones would have made a great way to kill off a lot of people without damaging the rest of the planet. Ah well.

Re:Depopulation: Wouldn't it be great? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35290358)

Too much to hope for: That more than a billion people could be wiped out from cell-phone use. And who would be the first to go? Chatty, useless people who spend all their time talking on the phone and doing nothing useful.

"Oh hi, I'm on a bus"... As if that bit of information is so important, that it must be shared with the caller... and everyone else on the bus listening to this useless person blathering away on a cell phone.

Oh if only! To quiet the world. To end resource waste. To bring the population of the planet down to a reasonable, sustainable number. I remember when there were only 3 billion. There was room to breathe.

Now we are heading towards 9 billion before 2050. There will be wars, famine, water rationing, and massive disasters based on us ravaging the planet in search of resources to sustain such a number.

If only cell-phones could kill a few billion. That would be an amazing way to get out of the disaster we are headed towards. But alas, it's too much to hope for.

We're going to need a good, sustained, nuclear exchange before we really have some progress in that area. And unfortunately, that's just going to leave even less resources for the survivors. Cell phones would have made a great way to kill off a lot of people without damaging the rest of the planet. Ah well.

I really, really hope your joking. But just in case you weren't:

I hate to break it to you but there was "wars, famine, water rationing and massive disasters based on us ravaging the planet" long before overpopulation was ever an issue. The sub text of your rant is "I only care about wars & famine when it's happening in my back yard". Perhaps if you are so concerned with overpopulation you would volunteer to end your life and help resolve this issue for the rest of us?

Thought not.

Re:Depopulation: Wouldn't it be great? (1)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290534)

"And who would be the first to go? Chatty, useless people who spend all their time talking on the phone and doing nothing useful."

I like the cut of your jib.

Replace "cell phone use" with... (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290130)

Replace "cell phone use" with "wearing a hat" or "doing a crossword puzzle" or "seeing an attractive jogger while driving" or "playing BioShock". Don't lots of things increase the brain's metabolism? So what? My brain needs all the metabolism it can get! So the evil plot goes like this: 1) Show cell phones do something to your brain. 2) Become media darling. 3) Get on Dr. Oz. 4) Profit!

"Brain activity?" (1)

Zorpheus (857617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290236)

A while ago I was reading an article about these brain activity scans. It was saying that it is not really known what is measured in these scans. And it was said that it is likely that these scans just show an increased blood flow, which is a reaction to increased heat. The purpose of this blood flow is to cool that part of the brain down. So the brain scans just show the increased cooling activity of the blood flow in active brain parts, not the activity itself.
It is known that mobile phone radiation causes a slight heating. So it would make sense if the brain reacts with increased cooling by a stronger blood flow.
I did not read TFA though.

Brain Scan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35290342)

"After 50 minutes brain scans showed increased consumption of glucose, or sugar, in the areas of the brain near the activated cell phone." Cells hungry for glucose... hmm... you mean similar to cancer cells?

Re:Brain Scan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35290888)

I suppose so, in that cells, cancerous or not, require more energy to do more work.

FUD...as usual (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290440)

The 'increased metabolic rate' noted is trivial, and generally below the level of normal system variation (or variations tied to autonomic processes that we're not comprehensively aware of...ie 'static noise').

You can get an order of magnitude more metabolic change in the visual processing centers by opening your eyes, for example. Temperature changes, interest level, even something as transient boredom can cause the metabolic rate in specific areas of the brain to fluctuate wildly.

In fact, just the warmth generated by an operating cellphone on that side of the head could have caused this spike.

Who? (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290456)

>director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Not to go all ad-hominem, but I'm just supposed to take some political hack's word for it?

Also: 47 people in the study.

not_large_enough_sample_and_no_controls_in_experiment.pdf.jpg.txt.bat

Bad science leads to scare mongering at best.

--
BMO

Gut reaction (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290460)

This should be interesting for what happens next. James Burke said in Connections "Gut reaction is all you have to go on when you don't understand something and it's almost always dangerously wrong." This study is flawed in many ways and inconclusive in all ways but one. But no amount of scientific explanation and reality checking will prevent ignorant and uninformed people from drawing the wrong conclusions, making judgments, and passing laws based on those conclusions.

arms too long? (1)

cof (471791) | more than 3 years ago | (#35290900)

Why are they getting the phone that close to their brain? I can't see the keys to type when I hold the phone there. And I can't read the responses either! Someone doesn't know how to use their phone right.

The Cell Phone Diet (1)

techwreck (1992598) | more than 3 years ago | (#35291038)

You know some quack is going to pick up on the "increased metabolism" bit and within weeks we will be seeing infomercials and kiosks at the mall pitching the new "cell phone diet", clinically proven to boost your metabolism (and lighten your wallet). Why eat right and exercise when you can talk your way thin?
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