Official: using your mobile phone can make you smarter

BRITAIN'S FIRST official investigation into the health effects of mobile phones has found that, far from causing memory loss, they can actually improve mental performance.

A study using volunteers who had dummy mobile phones strapped to their heads while carrying out psychological tests has overturned the popular view that the telephones cause people to forget things.

In the only research in the world on the effects of mobile phones on the human brain, scientists from Bristol University found that the phones significantly improved the speed it took to carry out mental tasks.

Although it does not address concerns about potential cancer risks, the surprise findings will come as a comfort to the estimated 10 million users of mobile phones in Britain who have been subjected to a series of scare stories about the potential mental effects caused by microwaves from their handsets.

Alan Preece, the Bristol researcher who carried out the study, funded by the Department of Health, is understood to have briefed the Government about the results.

Dr Preece used 36 volunteers who wore a special helmet fitted with a mobile phone on the left side. They carried out a series of psychological tests lasting between 25 and 35 minutes whilst the power was switched either on or off.

He found that people were just as good - or bad - at memory tests whether the power was running or not.

However, he also discovered that it took people less time to react to a stimulus when the power to the mobile phone was switched on.

This was more evident when the emissions from the experiment were designed to mimic an analogue mobile rather than the newer digital phones.

Although Dr Preece has refused to comment on the research until is it published in the International Journal of Radiation Biology, one suggestion is that this might be caused by stimulating the part of the brain's left hemisphere that acts as a communications channel between the centres of vision and speech.

The study's preliminary findings have been misreported by a number of national newspapers, claiming that mobiles cause memory loss. Dr Preece said that the reports are "substantially inaccurate" and "based on pure guesswork".

Research by other scientists has centred on test-tube studies or laboratory rats. Their equivocal findings, however, have failed to substantiate controversial reports that mobile phones cause cancer, amnesia and other problems.

Britain's radiation watchdog, the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB), has said: "There is no convincing scientific evidence of a health risk to humans resulting from mobile phone use."

However, it is supporting more "high quality" research to investigate the potential risks.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions