Towards the utilization of EEG as a brain imaging tool

Neuroimage. 2012 Jun;61(2):371-85. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.12.039. Epub 2011 Dec 28.


Recent advances in signal analysis have engendered EEG with the status of a true brain mapping and brain imaging method capable of providing spatio-temporal information regarding brain (dys)function. Because of the increasing interest in the temporal dynamics of brain networks, and because of the straightforward compatibility of the EEG with other brain imaging techniques, EEG is increasingly used in the neuroimaging community. However, the full capability of EEG is highly underestimated. Many combined EEG-fMRI studies use the EEG only as a spike-counter or an oscilloscope. Many cognitive and clinical EEG studies use the EEG still in its traditional way and analyze grapho-elements at certain electrodes and latencies. We here show that this way of using the EEG is not only dangerous because it leads to misinterpretations, but it is also largely ignoring the spatial aspects of the signals. In fact, EEG primarily measures the electric potential field at the scalp surface in the same way as MEG measures the magnetic field. By properly sampling and correctly analyzing this electric field, EEG can provide reliable information about the neuronal activity in the brain and the temporal dynamics of this activity in the millisecond range. This review explains some of these analysis methods and illustrates their potential in clinical and experimental applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain Mapping / instrumentation
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Electroencephalography / trends
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / pathology
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Neuroimaging / trends