Evoked potentials in hysteria and malingering

J Clin Neurophysiol. 1986 Jan;3(1):39-49. doi: 10.1097/00004691-198601000-00003.


Evoked potentials are often helpful in confirming the nonorganic nature of sensory symptoms in hysteria and malingering. In a retrospective analysis, such cases were found to comprise approximately 1% of referrals to a university hospital laboratory. However, the diagnostic usefulness of electrophysiologic tests is limited in some clinical settings: normal responses may be encountered in subjects with certain organic deficits, and "abnormal" responses can sometimes be produced voluntarily by normal subjects. In malingering--as opposed to hysteria--the role of the technologist in monitoring patient compliance with the test procedure is particularly important. Like other laboratory investigations, evoked potential findings must be interpreted within the context of each clinical situation, and with full appreciation of the sensitivities and specificities of the tests.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Stem / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Evoked Potentials*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis
  • Hysteria / diagnosis*
  • Malingering / diagnosis*
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Sensation
  • Sensory Thresholds*