7. What Can the EEG Tell Us?

  1. John W. Miller MD, PhD Director, UW Regional Epilepsy Center, Professor of Neurology and Neurological Surgery2 and
  2. Howard P. Goodkin MD, PhD The Shure Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics, Director, Division of Pediatric Neurology3
  1. Mark Quigg

Published Online: 10 JAN 2014

DOI: 10.1002/9781118456989.ch7



How to Cite

Quigg, M. (2014) What Can the EEG Tell Us?, in Epilepsy (eds J. W. Miller and H. P. Goodkin), John Wiley & Sons, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118456989.ch7

Editor Information

  1. 2

    University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

  2. 3

    Department of Neurology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA

Author Information

  1. Department of Neurology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 10 JAN 2014
  2. Published Print: 14 FEB 2014

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781118456941

Online ISBN: 9781118456989



  • EEG;
  • epileptic seizure;
  • encephalopathy;
  • interictal epileptiform discharges


This chapter on the clinical utility of electroencephalogram (EEG) covers the following topics. The basics of the underlying physiology in the generation of the EEG and in the engineering principles of its recording are reviewed. The applications of EEG lie mainly in the diagnosis of epilepsy and in the evaluation of encephalopathy. Interictal epileptiform discharges (spikes), sometimes elicited by activation procedures, can be found in patients with epilepsy. Prolonged recordings with and without simultaneous video are important in capturing epileptic seizures in the diagnosis of medically intractable seizures and their nonepileptic mimics. The predictable changes in background patterns of EEG correlate with state (wakefulness or sleep) and with various degrees of encephalopathy.