Objective: To use improved methods to address the question of whether acute exposure to radio-frequency (RF) electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) affects early (80–200 ms) sensory and later (180–600 ms) cognitive processes as indexed by event-related potentials (ERPs).
Methods: Thirty-six healthy subjects completed a visual discrimination task during concurrent exposure to a Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM)-like, 920 MHz signal with peak-spatial specific absorption rate for 10 g of tissue of 0 W/kg of body mass (Sham), 1 W/kg (Low RF) and 2 W/kg (High RF). A fully randomised, counterbalanced, double-blind design was used.
Results: P1 amplitude was reduced (p =.02) and anterior N1 latency was increased (p =.04) during Exposure compared to Sham. There were no effects on any other ERP latencies or amplitudes.
Conclusions: RF-EMF exposure may affect early perceptual (P1) and preparatory motor (anterior N1) processes. However, only two ERP indices, out of 56 comparisons, were observed to differ between RF-EMF exposure and Sham, suggesting that these observations may be due to chance.
Significance: These observations are consistent with previous findings that RF-EMF exposure has no reliable impact on cognition (e.g., accuracy and response speed).