Electroencephalography or EEG

Electroencephalography [EEG] or a Brain wave test is a method of recording electrical activity around the skull surface. The brain neurones emit electric charge which can be measured with specific EEG devices. Usually these devices use electrodes which can pick up these electrical currents and with the help of special technology can be interpreted on the screen for monitoring. Some electrodes are soaked in special solution like saline (for better conductivity) or, in case of metal ones, they are smeared with some special paste and stick to the skull surface. Some EEG devices look like a mesh and are placed right on the scalp to secure their locations.

Here are some images of EEG readers i found on the internet:

[image online] Available at: <http://brainfunctionss.com/eeg/&gt; [Accessed 27 February 2012].

[image online] Available at: <http://people.brandeis.edu/~sekuler/eegERP.html&gt; [Accessed 27 February 2012].

[image online] Available at: <http://www.autismspot.com/blog/6-Hour-EEG&gt; [Accessed 27 February 2012].

[image online] Available at: <http://www.thecnnh.org/eeg.html&gt; [Accessed 27 February 2012].

Judging from the images there are wide range of EEG readers available nowadays, mainly equipment found in hospitals and research centres. Some use more, some less, electrodes to perform brain readings but mainly it depends on how accurate and specific diagnosis doctors want to make.
Normally such devices will be custom made with accompanying software developed to work with specific device. They are very expensive to buy due to production costs and are very reliable and precise medical tools for diagnosis.

Most frequently EEG is performed to diagnose various illnesses, such as: epilepsy seizures, Alzheimer’s and demetia, brain tumours and infections. Sometimes they are used to track the sleeping pattern and monitor any abnormalities in brain activity while person is at sleep. There are growing amount of research based around this technology and it allows researchers to understand more about processes of the brain in non-invasive way. Sophisticated monitoring systems allow researchers to conduct extensive analysis.

The EEG device I have obtained is less complex and more suitable for non-medical researchers. It is called EPOC Neuroheadset:

[image online] Available at: <http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/features/smartbuy/other-gadgets/article2106394.ece&gt; [Accessed 27 February 2012].

This is first commercially available EEG reader device at reasonable cost. It is limited to the extent of the amount of applications other people have developed to interpret data streamed from this particular device. Even though it uses a bluetooth protocol to transmit values, it is heavily encrypted to avoid any free use of this device. One must purchase a development kit and licence in order to expand and customise on it’s usability.
It is not possible to conduct clinical tests on people but has a wide array of utilisation in experimental/creative approach. It is possible to record brain patterns and apply them onto some specific tasks which is totally impossible with medical EEG readers.
EPOC allows to interpret brain readings in a creative way.


Further reading:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroencephalography
  2. http://emotiv.com/

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