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Handb Clin Neurol. 2015;127:319-39. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-52892-6.00021-0.

Electrophysiologic recordings in traumatic brain injury.

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Department of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Department of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA. Electronic address:


Following a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the brain undergoes numerous electrophysiologic changes. The most common techniques used to evaluate these changes include electroencepalography (EEG) and evoked potentials. In animals, EEGs immediately following TBI can show either diffuse slowing or voltage attenuation, or high voltage spiking. Following a TBI, many animals display evidence of hippocampal excitability and a reduced seizure threshold. Some mice subjected to severe TBI via a fluid percussion injury will eventually develop seizures, which provides a useful potential model for studying the neurophysiology of epileptogenesis. In humans, the EEG changes associated with mild TBI are relatively subtle and may be challenging to distinguish from EEG changes seen in other conditions. Quantitative EEG (QEEG) may enhance the ability to detect post-traumatic electrophysiologic changes following a mild TBI. Some types of evoked potential (EP) and event related potential (ERP) can also be used to detect post-traumatic changes following a mild TBI. Continuous EEG monitoring (cEEG) following moderate and severe TBI is useful in detecting the presence of seizures and status epilepticus acutely following an injury, although some seizures may only be detectable using intracranial monitoring. CEEG can also be helpful for assessing prognosis after moderate or severe TBI. EPs, particularly somatosensory evoked potentials, can also be useful in assessing prognosis following severe TBI. The role for newer technologies such as magnetoencephalography and bispectral analysis (BIS) in the evaluation of patients with TBI remains unclear.


Neurophysiology; continuous EEG; electrocorticography; electroencephalography; electrophysiology; epileptogenesis; event-related potentials; evoked potentials; quantitative EEG; seizures; traumatic brain injury

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