technique for recording and interpreting the electrical activity of the brain. The nerve cells of the brain generate electrical impulses that fluctuate rhythmically in distinct patterns. In 1929 Hans Berger of Germany developed an electroencephalograph, an instrument that measures and records these brain wave patterns. The recording produced by such an instrument is called an electroencephalogram, commonly abbreviated EEG. To make an EEG, electrodes are placed in pairs on the scalp. Each pair of electrodes transmits a signal to one of several recording channels of the electroencephalograph. This signal consists of the difference in the voltage between the pair. The rhythmic fluctuation of this potential difference is shown as peaks and troughs on a line graph by the recording channel. The EEG of a normal adult in a fully conscious but relaxed state is made up of regularly recurring oscillating waves known as alpha waves. When a person is excited or startled, the alpha waves are replaced by low-voltage, rapid, irregular waves. During sleep, the brain waves become extremely slow. Such is also the case when a person is in a deep coma. Other abnormal conditions are associated with particular EEG patterns. Irregular slow waves known as delta waves, for example, arise from the vicinity of a localized area of brain damage. Electroencephalography provides a means of studying how the brain works and of tracing connections between one part of the central nervous system and another. Its effectiveness as a research tool, however, is limited because it records only a small sample of electrical activity from the surface of the brain. Many of the more complex functions of the brain, such as those that underlie emotions and thought, cannot be related closely to EEG patterns. Electroencephalography has proved more useful as a diagnostic aid in cases of serious head injuries, brain tumours, cerebral infections, epilepsy, and various degenerative diseases of the nervous system.
Meaning of ELECTROENCEPHALOGRAPHY in English
Britannica English vocabulary. Английский словарь Британика. 2012