Uncensored EEG: The role of DC potentials in neurobiology of the brain

Prog Neurobiol. 2018 Jun-Aug:165-167:51-65. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2018.02.001. Epub 2018 Feb 8.


Brain direct current (DC) potentials denote sustained shifts and slow deflections of cerebral potentials superimposed with conventional electroencephalography (EEG) waves and reflect alterations in the excitation level of the cerebral cortex and subcortical structures. Using galvanometers, such sustained displacement of the EEG baseline was recorded in the early days of EEG recordings. To stabilize the EEG baseline and eliminate artefacts, EEG was performed later by voltage amplifiers with high-pass filters that dismiss slow DC potentials. This left slow DC potential recordings as a neglected diagnostic source in the routine clinical setting over the last few decades. Brain DC waves may arise from physiological processes or pathological phenomena. Recordings of DC potentials are fundamental electro-clinical signatures of some neurological and psychological disorders and may serve as diagnostic, prognostic, and treatment monitoring tools. We here review the utility of both physiological and pathological brain DC potentials in different aspects of neurological and psychological disorders. This may enhance our understanding of the role of brain DC potentials and improve our fundamental clinical and research strategies for brain disorders.

Keywords: Bioelectrical activities; Cortex; Electrocorticography; Electroencephalography; Epileptiform discharges; Spreading depression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Electrocorticography / methods*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology*