Biological effects of ELF electric fields - historical review on bioengineering studies in Japan

Goro Matsumoto*, Koichi Shimizu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The studies on the biological effects of ELF electric fields conducted in Japan are reviewed. Among international studies, they are characterized as the studies from the viewpoint of bioengineering. In early studies, the safety standard of high voltage transmission lines was determined by a distinct biological effect, i.e., the sensation of the spark discharge caused by electrostatic induction. In numerical analysis, the field coupling to both animal and human bodies became well understood. Some new measurement techniques were developed which enabled us to evaluate the field exposure on a human body. A system was developed to realize the chronic exposure of an electric field on mice and cats. An optical telemetry technique was developed to measure the physiological response of an animal when it was exposed to an electric field. An ion-current shuttle box was developed to investigate the behavioral change of a rat when it was exposed to an ion-current as well as an electric field. In animal experiments, a mechanism of sensing the field was investigated. The cause of the seasonal change of field sensitivity was found. In cases ofs chronic exposure, suppression of growth was suspected. In shuttle box studies, an avoidance behavior from an ion-current was quantified. To find whether there are any adverse or beneficial effects of the field exposure on human beings, further study is required to clarify the mechanisms of the biological effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)684-692
Number of pages9
JournalIEICE Transactions on Communications
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1994 Jun 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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