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
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Content Leader

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role requires a high level...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent