50 Hz Magnetic Field Effects on the Performance of a Spatial Learning Task by Mice

Zenon Sienkiewicz*, Richard Haylock, Rachel Bartrum, Richard D. Saunders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Intense magnetic fields have been shown to affect memory-related behaviours of rodents. A series of experiments was performed to investigate further the effects of a 50 Hz magnetic field on the foraging behaviour of adult, male C57BL/6J mice performing a spatial learning task in an eight-arm radial maze. Exposure to vertical, sinusoidal magnetic fields between 7.5 μT and 7.5 mT for 45 min immediately before daily testing sessions caused transient decreases in performance that depended on the applied flux density. Exposure above a threshold of between 7.5 and 75 μT significantly increased the number of errors the animals made and reduced the rate of acquisition of the task without any effect on overall accuracy. However, the imposition of a 45-minute delay between exposure at 0.75 mT and behavioural testing resulted in the elimination of any deficit. Similarly, exposure to fields between 7.5 μT and 0.75 mT for 45 min each day for 4 days after training had no amnesic effects on the retention and subsequent performance of the task. Overall, these results provide additional evidence that 50 Hz magnetic fields may cause subtle changes in the processing of spatial information in mice. Although these effects appear dependent on field strength, even at high flux densities the field-induced deficits tend to be transient and reversible. Bioelectromagnetics 19:486-493, 1998.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-493
Number of pages8
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • ELF
  • Magnetic fields
  • Memory
  • Power frequency
  • Radial arm maze
  • Spatial learning


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