Scientists in Spain have just released a study of whether low-intensity magnetic fields, the same kind that digital devices, like laptops, cellphones, and tablets give off in abundance, may be affecting how our brains process information. And the results are mixed.
The researchers looked at whether “external magnetic stimulus influences working memory, perception, binary decision, motor execution, and sustained attention in humans.” After applying a mild magnetic stimulus to the heads of some healthy students, they tested the effect on cognitive functions.
They found that times recorded for perception, sustained attention, and motor execution actually decreased with the magnetic stimulus, while binary decision making took longer. On some level, this result may be surprising, because it implies the slight magnetic influence of a phone or tablet could serve a positive outcome, allowing for sharper perception and finer motor movements, though, of course, with a diminished attention span and capacity for making decisions.
And the scientists don’t exactly warn against this interpretation but merely urge those reading the study to consider these results against the significant amount of other literature on the topic of magnetic influence. After all, similar tests have yielded information that magnetic stimuli can interfere with implanted pacemakers and neurotransmitters.
This study simply adds to the scientific consensus that magnetic stimuli have consistently been shown to have an “adverse effect on the human nervous system and influence behavior.” Some countries like Russia have even taken steps to limit how much magnetic influence devices can emit precisely because of the effects on behavior.
So it would seem that even if this study doesn’t reveal any major new threats to be wary of, our computers and cellphones are still slowly draining our ability to function normally. Alas, I guess my Agar.io addiction might be bad for my social life after all.