Wi-Fi alters brain activity in young adults
1. Papageorgiou and colleagues published in the Journal of Integrative Neuroscience in
June 2011 that Wi-Fi signals decrease a measure of attention in young men whilst using
their working memory. Working memory is keeping information readily available in the
brain, to be used whilst carrying out a task. It is used in activities such as problem solving,
decision making, planning, reasoning and monitoring.
The group measured electrical activity on the surface of the brain of young men and women
in their early 20s whilst performing a task designed to stimulate working memory. They
used a version of the Hayling Sentence Completion test. At a set point after hearing the
sentence, a peak voltage was recorded on the scalp, called the P300 (part of an eventrelated
potential). P300 amplitude is thought to be an index of mental activity and
attention. The amplitude of the P300 peaks were greatly decreased in the young men and
slightly increased in the young women when a Wi-Fi access point, positioned 1.5m away,
was switched on. In the presence of a Wi-Fi signal the men's p300s were significantly lower
than the women's. Exposures were carried out blind, meaning that the participants did not
know whether the Wi-Fi was on or not. Microwave electrical fields were 0.49V/m at head
position (2.4GHz), well within the range of exposures experienced by someone using a Wi-
Fi-enabled device such as a wireless laptop or tablet computer.
1. Papageorgiou C. C., Hountala C. D., Maganioti a. E., Kyprianou M. A., Rabavilas A. D., Papadimitriou G. N.,
Capsalis C. N. 2011. Effects of Wi-Fi signals on the p300 component of event-related potentials during an
auditory hayling task. Journal of Integrative Neuroscience 10(2):189-202.
Two new studies1, 2 have found that electromagnetic fields from Wi-Fi transmitters can
alter electrical brain activity and decrease a measure of attention in young adults when
performing a memory task. These are the first reports to look at the effects of Wi-Fi on
Previously, changes in learning and memory, reaction times and altered EEG brain
activity have been associated with exposures to mobile phones and other microwave
electromagnetic fields. These new results show that Wi-Fi can also have a detrimental
effect on attention and mental activity, as well as potentially affecting brain
development in children and young people (which is dependent upon electrical brain
The attractiveness of Wi-Fi as a learning tool in schools is significantly decreased if it
could be damaging the cognitive abilities and brain development of pupils.