Electroencephalogram changes according to the subjective acupuncture sensation

Neurol Res. 2010 Feb;32 Suppl 1:31-6. doi: 10.1179/016164109X12537002793841.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate electroencephalogram changes, the electrical activity measured on the scalp, in relation to the items of acupuncture sensation questionnaire, based on real-life patients' experiences during acupuncture.

Methods: Using a 32 channel digital electroencephalogram system, healthy volunteers (n=10) received electroencephalogram examinations over four consecutive periods: (1) baseline; (2 and 3) acupuncture needle retention only or needle retention plus manipulation in random order; (4) aftermath. Alpha, beta and theta band power of electroencephalogram acquired in 30 electrodes were analysed in relation to the higher or lower subjective rating of acupuncture sensation questionnaire categories: the needle insertion, manipulation and retention related items.

Results: The group with higher ratings of needle retention related questionnaire items showed significant changes in alpha band electroencephalogram powers over the periods before, during and after the needle retention, while the group with lower ratings did not. When analysed without grouping based on higher or lower acupuncture sensation questionnaire ratings, electroencephalogram band powers did not show significant difference among four periods of acupuncture stimulation except for two electrodes of alpha band and two electrodes of theta band.

Discussion: These results indicate that acupuncture may directly affect electroencephalogram activity and this connection may be reflected in the subjective questionnaire items, related to the traditional notion of deqi (obtaining qi).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Alpha Rhythm
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Needles
  • Sensation / physiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Theta Rhythm
  • Young Adult