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Physiol Behav. 2017 Nov 1;181:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.08.022. Epub 2017 Sep 1.

Long term impairment of cognitive functions and alterations of NMDAR subunits after continuous microwave exposure.

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Department of Experimental Pathology, Beijing Institute of Radiation Medicine, Beijing, PR China.
Division of Radiation Protection and Health Physics, Beijing Institute of Radiation Medicine, Beijing, PR China.
Department of Experimental Pathology, Beijing Institute of Radiation Medicine, Beijing, PR China. Electronic address:



The long term effects of continuous microwave exposure cannot be ignored for the simulation of the real environment and increasing concerns about the negative cognitive effects of microwave exposure.


In this study, 220 male Wistar rats were exposed by a 2.856GHz radiation source with the average power density of 0, 2.5, 5 and 10mW/cm2 for 6min/day, 5days/week and up to 6weeks. The MWM task, the EEG analysis, the hippocampus structure observation and the western blot were applied until the 12months after microwave exposure to detect the spatial learning and memory abilities, the cortical electrical activity, changes of hippocampal structure and the NMDAR subunits expressions.


Results found that the rats in the 10mW/cm2 group showed the decline of spatial learning and memory abilities and EEG disorders (the decrease of EEG frequencies, and increase of EEG amplitudes and delta wave powers). Moreover, changes of basic structure and ultrastructure of hippocampus also found in the 10 and 5mW/cm2 groups. The decrease of NR 2A, 2B and p-NR2B might contribute to the impairment of cognitive functions.


Our findings suggested that the continuous microwave exposure could cause the dose-dependent long term impairment of spatial learning and memory, the abnormalities of EEG and the hippocampal structure injuries. The decrease of NMDAR key subunits and phosphorylation of NR 2B might contribute to the cognitive impairment.


Cognitive functions; Hippocampus; Microwave; NMDAR; Rats

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