Mobile Phones Make You Indecisive, But Improve Your Memory?

from the no-wonder-you're-a-worse-driver dept

There have been plenty of studies talking about how using a mobile phone while driving makes you much worse behind the wheel... and there are plenty of theories as to why this happens. Most people assume it's because you're not giving all of your attention to the road. However, a new study suggests one other possible explanation: exposure to mobile phone radiation could make you indecisive. Apparently, people exposed to approximately 30 minutes worth of radiation from a mobile phone may be slightly more indecisive -- and, in theory, that could contribute to the worse driving behavior. Of course, the study also found that the same amount of exposure improves your working memory -- so perhaps the next time you're trying to study for an exam, you should put your mobile phone up to your ear. Obviously, this is one small study, so it's probably not worth reading anything into the results (even the folks who conducted the study caution reading too much into the results). However, it's still an interesting finding -- and it's likely that we'll be seeing a lot of additional research in this area. It does remind me, however, of a study from a few years ago, that being exposed to cellular wireless radiation makes you feel sick, but smarter. Specifically, that study said it improved memory -- which seems to fit with this study's findings. Of course, that study also said it improved response times... which seems to go against this study's findings. So, perhaps I've just been talking on a mobile phone too much this evening (and maybe that helped me remember that previous study from 2003), but I'm going to stay undecided on just how much of an impact mobile phone radiation really has.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Centipede, 26 Apr 2006 @ 12:15am

    Cell Phones MayTurn Me Into a Killer

    Everytime my cellphone rings, I want to kill it. I used to talk alot on it all the time, and I had two cellphones even. They are evil, and do not make me indecisive on the road... because I rarely drive and talk! I am so annoyed with my having a cellphone right now, that I don't even care about the RAZR, or any other trendy phone. I hate the new voicemail system, (I have Cingular, and I really hate them for many reasons. I actually hate almost all of them.) because this voicemail system tells people when you are on the other line! And thereis no way to completely disable voicemail, which I would like to do. And when you save a message, it says it will automatically delete the message at some point. Whose Voicemail is this? MINE or Cingular's? Am I just borrowing this Voicemail Space for the length of my contract? And CINGULAR in particular, does not give its customers much control over their phone settings. How control-freak for a phone company. So this mysterious "GP" icon comes and goes every few months. And when you call customer service, they act dumb, and like they don't know, and won't do anything to assist a customer in distress. Trust me, I have complained. And I know that they don't even make note of my complaints.

    I really hate stupid drivers. They are everywhere. And after I have past someone up, what is the point of honking your horn? I use my horn to prevent accidents. If it is road rage, then I cut the person off really close, high beam them, turn off my lights behind them, or give them a finger. Honking a horn when you drive like a senior citizen is just being a "poor sport." Soccer moms one their cell phones while in an SUV--they need to realize they are bad drivers. Look over your shoulder before making a lane change.

    Why do people waste so much money on stupid research?

    They should help people in other countries instead. Cell phones definitely have contributed to superficiality, selfishness, and materialism. I do not even need to "research" anything to prove this belief to myself. It is just my opinion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ?, 26 Apr 2006 @ 12:42am

      Re: Cell Phones MayTurn Me Into a Killer

      Dude, you have issues. I'll be praying for you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      vonkeswick, 26 Apr 2006 @ 3:42am

      Re: Cell Phones MayTurn Me Into a Killer

      i totally agree with centipede, every time my cell phone rings, i cringe, the only reason i have one is so people at the office and my gf can get a hold of me. it is my ball and chain of freedom. it liberates you because you don't have to be somewhere particular to talk to someone, but at the same time, it enslaves you by always being there. and people who talk while they drive, should have their cell phones murdered in front of their eyes. and yes, people who change lanes without signaling OR even looking, should also be murdered. i was heading south and an EMPTY road, in my first ever new car, which i had for about a MONTH, and some guy heading north had stopped in the other lane waiting to turn, then did it right in front of me!!! totalled both the cars, fucked up my credit because i had to turn around and get another car, wasn't able to secure a large enough loan to take a full load at school so i have to take eight units and wait longer to graduate, my new car costs me 100 bucks more a month and insurance is fifty bucks a month more. all because this guy was on his cell phone!!!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Quattro, 26 Apr 2006 @ 4:45am

        Re: Re: Cell Phones MayTurn Me Into a Killer

        Sounds like you had bad credit to begin with or poor choice of insurance if the car was total then the insurance would have covered it. Didn't have time to stop...SLOW DOWN

        Centipede I would love to here your problems with religion, bet you hate the war effort too

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Centipede, 26 Apr 2006 @ 5:55am

          Re: Re: Re: Cell Phones MayTurn Me Into a Killer

          Yes...(the last thing you said) it is the only thing that makes me cry right now.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Me, 26 Apr 2006 @ 5:51am

      Re: Cell Phones MayTurn Me Into a Killer

      You are a retard. Your example of what you do to people with roadrage is roadrage. How old are you 12, I bet you can't even drive. I have met more intelligent people in my childs kindergarten class.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Centipede, 26 Apr 2006 @ 6:07am

        Re: Re: Cell Phones MayTurn Me Into a Killer

        Look you dumb fuck, I am not 12. You are the stupid one, and people like you have children????? Did you take a survey or conduct your own research in your stupid child's kindergarten class?

        Just to inform you, I scored 1510 on my SATs so I do not think that you are a qualified enough individual to determine that I am"unintelligent."

        Do you sign your name "X"? I bet I could drive faster than you. You FAT soccer mom or something equally deplorable.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Centipede, 26 Apr 2006 @ 1:53am

    No Shit. I like issues, they are fun.

    I am a "she." And please do not pray for me. I have even more issues regarding Christianity. But thank you for the thought.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rose, 26 Apr 2006 @ 5:32am

      Re: No Shit. I like issues, they are fun.

      why does praying have to be about christianity?

      (offtopic-i know, sorry)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Centipede, 26 Apr 2006 @ 5:58am

        Re: Re: No Shit. I like issues, they are fun.

        I guess I could be wrong, but I assumed he was a Christian by his overall tone and syntax.

        And because the last time someone said that to me, they were a "representative" of some christian church. Like it is some charitable donation or something. I like being a heathen too.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Louis, 26 Apr 2006 @ 2:14am

    RE: Cell Phones MayTurn Me Into a Killer

    You rock Centipede! Deadright about people not looking over their shoulders before changing lanes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      who ja wa?, 26 Apr 2006 @ 3:13am

      Re: RE: Cell Phones MayTurn Me Into a Killer

      ya i got into an accident b4 cuz of not looking far enough over my shoulder.. makes u feel stupid and say shit i should pay more attention.

      please stop leaving off topic comments too u guys

      and does techdirt have any sources? ever? i hear alot of astounding stuff on here yet never any proof so i never know what to beleive and usualy can't

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Apr 2006 @ 7:17am

        Sources

        "and does techdirt have any sources? ever?"

        Yea... you see those blue words in the article? You *click* on them.

        And, learn to type / spell / read / think.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          parched, 26 Apr 2006 @ 8:42am

          Re: Sources

          Yea... you see those blue words in the article? You *click* on them.

          Usually, yes, there are blue words to click for sources. In this case, however, they are absent. Perhaps Mike forgot, in which case the cell phone-memory connection seems to be at dispute.
          I am hoping to see an update with the source links because this is an interesting piece, and I would like to follow up on it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Mike (profile), 26 Apr 2006 @ 12:54pm

            Re: Re: Sources


            Usually, yes, there are blue words to click for sources. In this case, however, they are absent. Perhaps Mike forgot, in which case the cell phone-memory connection seems to be at dispute.


            Huh? There is a link in this article and has been from the beginning with all the details... Not sure why you believe there was no link.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Apr 2006 @ 5:05am

    Indecisive from Cell Phone?

    I'll be first to say it bluntly. This article is complete BS. It is the distraction created while people are trying to carry on thoughtful (or not so thoughtful) conversations while driving that is so dangerous.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    nunya_bidness, 26 Apr 2006 @ 5:06am

    Microwave Therapy

    The same study found that putting your head near a microwave oven made you lose your appetite, but provided 100% the RDA of eight essential vitamins and minerals.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tyson, 26 Apr 2006 @ 5:24am

    Are we forgetting something?

    I think everybody is forgetting the one small fact that statistics and study results can say whatever you want them to say...

    Just an FYI for you Centipede. if I remember correctly, when you see the GP icon on your Cingular phone, that means that you are connected to their GPRS network instead of their GPS network. GPRS is the newer technology that Cingular is upgrading their network to. Again, this is only if I am remembering correctly. It has been a while since I have dealt with that stuff, so if I am wrong, somebody please correct me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    You are all idiots, 26 Apr 2006 @ 5:25am

    Everyone shut the fuck up and get out!

    If everyone here loves to complain about the articles here, WHY DO YOU READ THEM? It would be better for you and less annoying for me if you would all just GET THE FUCK OUT. Stop posting your pointless complaints about a news service that you are not forced to read!! SHUT THE FUCK UP!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SAM, 26 Apr 2006 @ 5:26am

    Get a fine for talking while driving

    I have to disagree with the way these cellphone-is-dangerous studies are being carried out. I'm sorry but if anyone was in a 2-way conversation for over half an hour whether on the phone or not then his brain won't function at top speed no matter what. I saw a TV show where they came to the conclusion that talking on the phone while driving is more dangerous than drunk driving. They were bombarding the driver with trivia questions over the cellphone which made him lose his concentration on the road, but didn't bother to repeat the experiment while asking the same questions by a person sitting in the car.
    Living in a country with futile road legislations, I use my cellphone in the car most of the time, and i do find myself driving drunk on some occasions, and, take it from me, it's much more difficult to concentrate when u are drunk (no surprise).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      nunya_bidness, 26 Apr 2006 @ 5:40am

      Re: Get a fine for talking while driving

      I have to agree with you, I think they are just trying to make cell phones look bad, because these people are easily distracted by anything. Just watch a police video of a chase, with the officer going 100 mph, talking on the radio, talking with a camera man with video lighting in his face, all at the same time!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      me, 26 Apr 2006 @ 5:58am

      Re: Get a fine for talking while driving

      I would have to agree completely. How is talking on a cell phone any different than talking to the person in the back seat of the car, which you are inatley (sp?) going to want to make eye contact with at some point.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Cody, 26 Apr 2006 @ 5:48am

    "They were bombarding the driver with trivia questions over the cellphone which made him lose his concentration on the road"

    How often are you asked trivia questions while on the phone and driving? I saw that too... I don't see how a cell phone would be any different than the person sitting next to you (aside from people using one hand to hold the phone up - there ARE ear pieces available).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Plop, 26 Apr 2006 @ 8:34am

      cell phone vs. passenger

      Here are a few explanations why communicating with someone on a cell phone could be more dangerous than communicating with a passenger in a car:

      1. Since the passenger is in the car, she is aware of surrounding environment, so can shutup at the appropriate time, if necessary. Also if there's a passenger in the car, she can also provide feedback to help the driver stop from driving like an idiot, i.e. tell the driver to put their foot on the gas or get out of the fast lane or at minimum put their blinker on before make a no look turn.

      2. a passenger gives off visual cues, which help the driver understand what is being communicated. these visual cues, i.e. body language, are not present in cell phone conversations, so one might conclude, ceteris paribus, that the driver engaged in a conversation with someone over a cell phone would have to concentrate more to get the gist of the message than with a passenger.

      FYI: I was home-schooled in the Appalachia and didn't take the SAT.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    BULLITT_81, 26 Apr 2006 @ 5:55am

    TURN IT OFF

    First off...why are most of u complaining about how ur cell phone makes u "cringe"....TURN IT OFF!!...Im sick and tired of reading dumb posts about naggers and complainers....damn whatever happended to just sucking it up....its a part of living whether u like it or not...as for the being distracted part..oh well...most of you ignorant SOB's cant talk and walk at the same time without bumping into something

    my 2 cents

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Centipede, 26 Apr 2006 @ 6:12am

      Re: TURN IT OFF

      You are complaining too. Duh.

      I like to complain because I have so many things to do. I cannot turn it off in case of an "emergency" or in case some shit like that.

      And I like getting mad, talking shit, having road rage. Like responding to all these things right now gives me enough endorphins or adrenaline to start my day chaotically and looking forward to road rage. You must drive some slow piece of shit car to talk like that. HAHA

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Centipede, 26 Apr 2006 @ 6:12am

      Re: TURN IT OFF

      You are complaining too. Duh.

      I like to complain because I have so many things to do. I cannot turn it off in case of an "emergency" or in case some shit like that.

      And I like getting mad, talking shit, having road rage. Like responding to all these things right now gives me enough endorphins or adrenaline to start my day chaotically and looking forward to road rage. You must drive some slow piece of shit car to talk like that. HAHA

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JEsus Christ!, 26 Apr 2006 @ 7:34am

    I have come to the conclusion that most people contributing to this are 12 years old. What a worthless string of immature, uneducated comments.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Alpharocker, 26 Apr 2006 @ 7:35am

    Centipede

    You are an idiot.
    Congratulations on scoring 1510 on your fake SATs. I scored 65,000,000 on mine. and its easy for me to say that because we are on the internet and no one is responsible for what they say.
    On top of that, you carry around your fake internet score and post it all over the internet like it means something. Anyone smart enough to score 1510 on their SATs would know SAT scores are bullshit. and dont mean anything.
    AND the standards are based on RESEARCH.
    You idiot.
    Our entire society is based on research, nothing gets done without it. Including SATs, maybe not the actual test, but all of the standards, the implementation, etc.
    The scores are comparative, which means they don't mean anything without, you guessed it, idiot, RESEARCH.
    So march on and wave your fake 1510 SAT score, you idiot. I am going to sit here and do the hardest Sudoku ever. DONE.
    Yes! A new record.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    yoadrienne, 26 Apr 2006 @ 7:52am

    all this stuff

    seems to me that there is not enough research done, ever. of course, we can't live our lives in limbo, waiting for research that could damage our way of life anyway so we just get on with it.
    i don't understand completely why these things turn into name-calling matches but its still entertaining to read.
    and, when i drive-whether or not it improves my memory- i don't answer the phone. i'm sorry but staying alive and keeping a relatively bash-free car is more important than my friend telling me she's waiting in front of the movies instead of inside.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    me2, 26 Apr 2006 @ 7:57am

    think about Centipede

    Who cares what your SAT is. If you are sharing it that means one of three things;
    1) You are a freshman in college, probably not a great college; if you were in a great college you would brag that you were at MIT or CIT and not mention your SAT scores at all. If this is the case I wonder why you aren’t at a good school, something must be wrong.
    2) You are in high school and are bolstering your argument by using the fallacy of appealing to the authority of the SAT. If this is the case you aren't old enough to tell us about experience.
    3) You are beyond college and actually got a good SAT score 4 years ago yet haven’t managed to accomplish anything significant or noteworthy since. If this is the case you have a sad life stop posting here and go accomplish something.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Riza, 26 Apr 2006 @ 8:04am

    Here's to you

    Wow, you two are bitching like two hormonal teenages my god calm down. who really gives a shit what you scored on you SAT's ACT's and any other retarded standardized tests.

    It will be ok, just stop and take deep breaths and try to carry on like civilized human beings

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dewey, 26 Apr 2006 @ 8:07am

    When the idea that cell phones make you drive poorly comes up, I always wonder why people think cell phones are so much more distracting than talking to a passenger, fucking with the radio, drinking coffee, etc. What's the difference between a phone call and talking to a passenger? What's the difference between answering your phone and changing the station on the radio or putting in a CD? No one's trying to outlaw carpooling and radios. I just don't see how cell phones are the problem. Bad drivers are the problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lewycane, 26 Apr 2006 @ 8:46am

    Ok, wow. People here need to calm down and focus more on the artical insted of flaming others.

    People say they hate there ringtones, I agree. Most of the ringtones that come on the phone to begin with are crap. Just set it to vibrate. Yes there are headsets available so that you dont have to pay attention to you're phone but the thing is that A) not everyone has there headset on all the time when they drive B) with most headsets you still have to find your phone and hit accept so that you can answer the call. Yes, there are settings on the phone for auto answer and stuff like that but not many people care to look through all the differen't setting to find that.

    Centipede, if you really want to be taken seriously as a person and an intillectual here is a little tip for you; don't argue online, cause whether you win or lose you're still retarted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Centipede, 26 Apr 2006 @ 2:19pm

      Made you all mad!!! YAY!!!

      I did really get a 1510, whoever said that it is the only accomplishment I had was right!!!

      YAY for you!!

      I went to Occidental college. Then dropped out, and kept taking classes except lab science.

      I have over 200 units. And probably three majors.

      I don't care what you all think. I just do what I want, so people telling me to do some shit, shut the fuck up. I don't listen to anyone and do what I want. So what if I have a 12-year old mentality. That is probably why I look so young.

      And I have fun acting like a bust all the time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kevin, 26 Apr 2006 @ 9:57am

    Look! Its a post about the actual article!

    I get the feeling that people that spend more than a half hour on their phone everyday tend to be, how do you say, less intelligent than people who have better things to do (think 14 year old girls) hence the indecisiveness. I would imagine that the memory difference could be attributed to the fact that younger people are much more likely to spend lots of time on a cell phone (think 14 year old girl) and would have better memory.

    Without seeing the actual study there is no way to tell if they account for age/general intelligence.

    And to get a bit off topic, I don't really believe that you can effectively "factor out" things like age/race/gender/education/class etc. and that survey/study results are almost always biased.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Gorgias, 26 Apr 2006 @ 10:06am

    Look! It's another post NOT about the article

    Does an interest in technological affairs automatically render one incapable of arguing effectively? Does staring at one's computer screen manage to make an effort at rhetorical ability fruitless?

    Here's a few pointers for you:

    1. learn to argue more effectively. Frame your argument on something solid; that means leave off the random insults, references to SAT scores and religious preferences.

    2. learn to spell- especially when calling someone *else* "retarted."

    Rhetoric is at the center of any culture's activities; it defines a particular society in time for what it is. Don't let us go down in history as an uneducated mass of people unable to effectively attack or defend ourselves verbally.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    s1l3nt c, 26 Apr 2006 @ 11:01am

    Let's all focus our attention on something importa

    Like regime change for our own backwards country or
    sterilizing anyone over the age of 21 who isn't capable of sending an e-mail attachment on a properly equipped PC
    or
    reading the manuals for all of the software and devices we've purchased over the last twelve months

    (There. That should keep them busy.) :-P

    Back to the topic...

    I have this theory (mind you it has no scientific backing) that we're eventually going to find a wide assortment of side effects associated to RF exposure of all types: microwaves, cell phones, WiFi routers, terrestrial TV and radio broadcasts, etc.

    I'd even go as far to suspect that some neurological conditions may be aggravated, or even caused by, broadcast RF signals becoming distorted by metal deposits in the brain.

    I'd suspect that some study will be done on finding "safe" frequencies. Otherwise, we'll all end up tangled in cables again.

    But, of course, I can't draw any conclusions without thorough research...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Louis, 27 Apr 2006 @ 8:09am

    Angry people.

    They are everwhere. On the roads and on the forums. You people need a holiday in Holland.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2008 @ 4:42am

    all you lot are fuckin pussy pplz

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.