Auditory Perception of Radio-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields

Research Item – Chung-Kwang Chou and Arthur W. Guy

Bioelectromagnetics l•esearch œaboratory, Department of l•ehabilitation Medicine and Center for
Bioengineering, School of Medicine and College of Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle,
Washington 98195

Robert Galambos

Department of Neuroscience•; School of Medicine, Unioersity of California, San Diego, œa Jolla,
California 92093 (Received 2October 1981; accepted for publication 26 February 1982)

Absorption of pulsed microwave energy can produce an auditory sensation in human beings with normal hearing. The phenomenon manifests itself as a clicking, buzzing, or hissing sound depending on the modulatory characteristics of the microwaves. While the energy absorbed (–• 10/z J/g) and the resulting increment of temperature (–• 10 -6 øC) per pulse at the threshold of perception are small, most investigators of the phenomenon believe that it is caused by thermoelastic expansion. That is, one hears sound because a miniseule wave of pressure is set up within the head and is detected at the cochlea when the absorbed microwave pulse is converted to thermal energy. In this paper, we review literature that describes psychological, behavioral, and physiological observations as well as physical measurements pertinento the microwave-hearing phenomenon.

PACS numbers: 43.10. Ln, 43.63.Bq, 43.66.Ba


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