Effects of electromagnetic fields emitted by GSM phones on working memory: a meta-analysis

O. Zubko*, R. L. Gould, H. C. Gay, H. J. Cox, M. C. Coulson, R. J. Howard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
200 Downloads (Pure)


Background and Objective: Current treatments for Alzheimer's Disease (AD) do not affect the course of the illness and brain stimulation techniques are increasingly promoted as potential therapeutic interventions for AD. This study reviews the effects of electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure versus sham exposure on working memory (WM) performance of healthy human participants. Method: Online literature databases and previous systematic reviews were searched for studies of EMF and WM in participants without reported memory problems. Two thousand eight hundred and fifty seven studies were identified, and 10 studies met the inclusion criteria. An assessment of study quality was completed, and separate, random effects meta-analyses were conducted for each of the three WM tasks included: n-back, substitution and digit span forward. Results: No differences were found between participants exposed to active EMF versus sham conditions in any of the three working memory tasks examined. Conclusion: Results indicate that EMF does not affect WM during the n-back, substitution and digit-span tasks. Future studies should focus on the possible effects of chronic exposure to EMF in older adults with AD using a battery of comparable WM and attention tasks, before EMF can be seriously considered as a potential modulator of WM in AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-135
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number2
Early online date20 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • brain stimulation
  • electromagnetic fields
  • working memory


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