Study type: Medical/biological study (experimental study)

Low-level microwave irradiation and central cholinergic systems. med./bio.

Published in: Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1989; 33 (1): 131-138

Aim of study (acc. to author)

To investigate the neurological effect of low-level microwave irradiation, and the biochemical and behavioral consequences of repeated exposure of rats.

Background/further details

In the first series of experiments the effects of acute exposure on choline uptake in four regions of the brain (striatum, frontal cortex, hippocampus, and hypothalamus) containing high amounts of cholinergic innervations were examined. In the second series of experiments it was studied whether the effects of acute (20-min) microwave exposure on central cholinergic activity could be blocked by pretreatment with narcotic antagonist naltrexone hydrochloride), since the authors have speculated that microwave irradiation is a stressor and some of their effects are mediated by endogenous opioids. Finally, the effects of microwave exposure on learning in the radial-arm maze were examined.



Exposure Parameters
Exposure 1: 2.45 GHz
Modulation type: pulsed
Exposure duration: 10 x 20 min or 45 min sessions

Exposure 1

Main characteristics
Frequency 2.45 GHz
  • circular
Exposure duration 10 x 20 min or 45 min sessions
Modulation type pulsed
Pulse width 2 µs
Packets per second 1
Repetition frequency 500 Hz
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Additional info please see the reference article on detailed exposure set-up.
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
power density 10 W/m² mean measured - within the waveguide.
SAR 600 µW/g mean calculated whole body determined calorimetrically.

Reference articles

  • Guy AW et al. (1979): Circularly polarized 2450 MHz waveguide system for chronic exposure of small animals to microwaves.

Exposed system:

Methods Endpoint/measurement parameters/methodology

Investigated system:
Investigated organ system:
Time of investigation:
  • after exposure

Main outcome of study (acc. to author)

Increases in choline uptake activity in the frontal cortex, hippocampus, and hypothalamus were observed after 20 min of acute microwave exposure. Tolerance to the effect of microwaves developed in the hypothalamus, but not in the frontal cortex and hippocampus, of rats subjected to ten daily 20-min exposure sessions. Furthermore, the effects of acute microwave irradiation on central choline uptake could be blocked by pretreating the rats before radiation with the narcotic antagonist naltrexone.
Decreases in concentration of muscarinic receptors occured in the frontal cortex and hippocampus of animals subjected to ten 20-min microwave exposure sessions, whereas increase in receptor concentration occured in the hippocampus of animals exposed to ten 45-min sessions.
Radiation for 20 min before maze training had no significant effect on learning, but a significant treatment X training-session interaction was observed suggesting that the learning curves of the microwave- and sham-exposed animals are different. Retardation in learning was observed after 45 min of microwave exposure. The data showed significant treatment main effect and treatment X training-session interaction effects.

Study character:

Study funded by