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Bioelectromagnetics. 2005 May;26(4):287-98.

Comparison perception of singular transcranial magnetic stimuli by subjectively electrosensitive subjects and general population controls.

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  • 1Psychiatric University Hospital, Regensburg, Germany.


Transcranial magnetic stimulation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex by single pulses of varying field intensities was used to measure thresholds of individual perception and motor response in three groups of subjects: subjectively electrosensitive people, general population controls with a high burden of complaints related to electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure in the literature (highest decile in complaint burden), and general population controls with a low burden of complaints (lowest decile in complaint burden). The major study endpoint was the ability of the subjects to differentiate between real magnetic stimulation and a sham condition. There were no significant differences between groups in the thresholds, neither of detecting the real magnetic stimulus nor in motor response. But the three groups differed significantly in differentiating between stimulation and sham condition, with the subjectively electrosensitive people having the lowest ability to differentiate and the control group with high level of EMF-related complaints having the best ability to differentiate. Differences between groups were mostly due to false alarm reactions in the sham condition reported by subjectively electrosensitives (SES). We found no objective correlate of the self perception of being "electrosensitive." Overall, our experiment does not support the hypothesis that subjectively electrosensitive patients suffer from a physiological hypersensitivity to EMFs or stimuli. Further research should focus on disposing factors explaining the unspecific sensory hyperresponsiveness of subjectively electrosensitive subjects.

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