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The Electro-Encephalogram or EEG had its origins well over 100 years ago when Dr. Richard Caton presented his findings about the electrial activity of the exposed brains of rabbits and monkeys on which he was experimenting. A practicing physician in Liverpool, he presenting his findings in the British Medical Journal in 1875. Similar experiments were happening throughout the world and by 1912 Russian physiologist Vladimir Vladimirovich Pravdich-Neminsky published the first animal EEG. By 1914 scientists could demonstrate and use the EEG to understand seizures. By the 1930s, Franklin Offner of Northwestern University developed the first EEG that includd a printing device he called the Crystograph. The American EEG Society was founded in 1947 and the first international congress was held in 1953. Today EEGs are used routinely to help diagnose and monitor a variety of brain function and disfunction, including monitoring anesthesia and distinguishing seizures. The word electro-encephalogram is a combination of three Ancient Greek words, the first being the Latinized electrum from the word ελεκτρον (electron) meaning amber. Amber was known to early scientists to have unique qualities, notably that it attracted other substances-coined around 1640 by English physicist William Gilbert. The middle portion of the word comes from the Ancient Greek word κεφαλη (kephale) meaning head and the -gram suffix comes from the Ancient Greek γραμμα (gramma) meaning a small weight or letter of the alphabet from the verb γραφειν (graphein) meaning to write or draw. Image of a patient preparing for an EEG courtesy SMI Eyetracking via flickr, used with permission under a Creative Commons 3.0 license, with much gratitude. This post is dedicated to Syan Destiny Lancaster-good luck on your EEG tomorrow!

Image of an EEG courtesy Der Lange, used with permission under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.

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