I read that the frequency of signal over neural ion channels in the brain can range from .19 Hz - 30 Hz at low voltage. For an interference example, AC electricity is 60 Hz at high voltage and generates an electrical field. From cited research below, it appears neural activity is impacted by EMR/RFI. Question: does the brain have some process it uses to reduce this interference? Forward error correction?

It seems that if there is an electrical field, force will be placed on these charges traveling over the ion channels and as a result lots of interference.

Research: Electromagnetic waves, particularly RF-EMFs emitted by mobile phones are absorbed into the brain to such an extent that it can affect the activity of neurons (Kleinlogel et al., 2008; Hinrikus et al., 2018). Also, in 2011 World Health Organization’s designated mobile phone RF-EMFs as Group 2B, that is, possibly carcinogenic to humans. Recent studies show that RF-EMFs emitted by cellular phones are absorbed into the brain, to a degree, that can affect neuronal activity (Kleinlogel et al., 2008; Jeong et al., 2015; Jiang et al., 2016). physiological changes in cell membranes and ion channels at cellular levels have been reported (Pall, 2013; Buckner et al., 2015). Changes in cell membranes and ion channels induce alterations in the electrical activity of neurons, and these changes stimulate or inhibit neuronal activity through interaction with voltage-gated ion channels (Nanou and Catterall, 2018).

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Take the easy data. Check the thickness of a neuron's cell membrane, and the voltage across it. Calculate the Volts per metre. Compare this with any external influences. $\endgroup$ Commented May 31, 2022 at 12:19

2 Answers 2


There is an extensive Q&A about the difference between brain waves and EM waves over on our sister site Psychology & Neuroscience: https://psychology.stackexchange.com/q/15222/14382 (though some of the answerers beyond the first two are a bit confused)

In summary, the brain doesn't care about EM in that range at all.

Light travels about 300,000,000 meters per second, so a 30 Hz electrical signal has a wavelength of about 10,000,000 meters. Nothing in a brain is long enough to resolve that length of wave. All electricity in the brain is via potential differences over membranes; a wave that long is almost exactly the same amplitude on both sides of the membrane so there is no consequence.

Yes, 30 Hz is a common neuronal firing frequency, but that has little to do with EM waves. Neurons don't communicate with each other through EM waves, but through release of neurotransmitter and opening/closing of ion channels. It becomes a problem for recording neuronal activity, but that's it.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm still confused why a 60 Hz signal has no impact on the potential voltage difference of the ION channel. Even if the wave is long, it is still oscillating at 30 or 60 Hz, which would induce current on the ION channel due to the Lorentz Force. Why would the length of the wave have anything to do with this? It's the time of rise and fall of the EMF that is located along the ION channel isn't it? The neurotransmitters (glutamate, dopamine, GABA, norepinephrine, etc) are released at the terminals of the ION channels, so would be effected by the ION channels and induced EMF. $\endgroup$
    – Nick
    Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 6:37
  • $\begingroup$ I also read another article from NIH ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6025786. It states that "several studies have reported that exposure to EMF results in oxidative stress in many tissues of the body. Exposure to EMF is known to increase free radical concentrations and traceability and can affect the radical couple recombination." $\endgroup$
    – Nick
    Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 3:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Nick That's an NIH site that indexes journals. Saying it's from NIH is like saying that Google said something because you found it on a Google search. Try out what Polypipe suggested in a comment. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 4:15

There are two aspects to this question. The first, dealing with EMR associated with AC generated in the usual range is already properly answered. However, in the case of mobile phone radio and wifi frequencies of the order of 2 to 4 Ghz for example, the wavelengths are precisely in the range of the internal dimensions of the human calvarium: e.g. at 2 Ghz, the wavelength is ~15 cm.

Now whether this correspondence implies any physiological effect in the brain -- if you can imagine microwaves of that frequency rattling around the brain, being variously reflected and refracted by the calcific structures of the skull -- is another question, possibly worthy of specific research.

However, in the instance in which such microwaves might be slightly refracted or reflected within the calvarium, there will certainly arise a beat frequency deriving in any interference effect between those refracted or reflected components which is conceivably of the order of the so-called frequency of 'brain waves', which as noted are not really 'waves' in the ordinary sense -- rather an integrated effect deriving in the more-or-less synchronised signaling or 'firing' of myriad neurons.

Again, whether wave interference resultants arising with these comparable frequencies imply any actual physical effect which is directly dependent on those hypothetical beat frequencies is a further question. Perhaps the brain becomes confused about the origin of these 'beats'.

To address your central question, perhaps the brain even learns to interpret not only this interference effect, but given the correspondence mentioned between radio and microwave wavelengths and the dimensions of the brain, perhaps it is in fact learning through the endless and inexorable processes of adaptation how to decode the information transmitted through such EMR. All the more wondrous then, all the more tantalising and seductive that one should then hear and see this data in full flower slightly delayed in the devices themselves, on screens and in speakers. Perhaps somebody will devise an appropriate experiment (if the whole thing isn't already an experiment).


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .