There has been considerable interest in the possibility that mobile phones (MP) may
adversely affect human sensation and cognition. In terms of sensory and cognitive function,
studies have so far been inconclusive with some reports of improvements, some reports of
impairments, but on the whole no consistent findings. Further to this there is uncertainty as to
whether different age groups may be differentially sensitive to mobile phone-related
exposures (e.g. adolescents, young adults and elderly), and whether different technologies
(e.g. 2nd versus 3rd generation phones) may effect people differently. The present study
addresses these uncertainties by testing cognitive function of different age-groups during
exposure to 2G, 3G and sham conditions separately.
Event related potentials (ERPs), which are derivations of the electroencephalogram, offer
a sensitive means of assessing brain function. The present study employed ERPs to assess
brain function during an auditory oddball task, which required participants to press a
response button whenever they heard a target stimulus. Non-targets and novel stimuli were
also presented, which enabled the assessment of neural processing associated with sensory
processing (early ERPs to non-targets), cognitive processing (later ERPs to targets), and the
‘surprise’ associated with the presentation of the ‘novel’ stimuli (ERPs to novels).