Electroencephalography (EEG) is the recording of electrical activity along the scalp. EEG measures voltage fluctuations resulting from ionic current flows within the neurons of the brain. In clinical contexts, EEG refers to the recording of the brain’s spontaneous electrical activity over a short period of time, usually 20–40 minutes, as recorded from multiple electrodes placed on the scalp.
An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a painless procedure that uses small, flat metal discs (electrodes) attached to your scalp to detect electrical activity in your brain. Your brain cells communicate via electrical impulses and are active all the time, even when you’re asleep. This activity shows up as wavy lines on an EEG recording.
Why is it done?
An EEG can determine changes in brain activity that may be useful in diagnosing brain disorders, especially epilepsy. An EEG may be helpful to confirm, rule out or provide information that helps with management of the following disorders:
• Epilepsy or other seizure disorder
• Brain tumor
• Head injury
• Brain dysfunction that may have a variety of causes (encephalopathy)
• Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
• Sleep disorders
• Memory impairment
An EEG can’t measure intelligence or detect mental illness. It may be used to confirm brain death in someone in a persistent coma.
EEGs are safe and painless. Sometimes people with epilepsy have a seizure intentionally triggered during the test, but appropriate medical care is provided if needed.
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