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What can I Expect During an EEG Scan?

During an EEG scan, you'll experience a non-invasive procedure where small sensors are attached to your scalp to record brain activity. It's painless and typically lasts about an hour. You may be asked to perform simple tasks. The images will reveal the intricate dance of electrical impulses in your brain. Curious about what these patterns mean for you? Let's delve deeper.
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a diagnostic test doctors use to record and analyze brain waves. During an EEG scan, you can typically expect to relax comfortably, as the test is painless. In fact, the most troubling part of it may be lying still if you have a tendency to become restless. In some cases, you may receive a sedative before an EEG scan, but this is usually only to help you fall asleep if your scan is to take place while you are sleeping. Usually, an EEG scan lasts for about a half hour to 60 minutes.

When you have to undergo an EEG scan, you will likely be asked to relax in a position that is comfortable for you. For example, you may be asked to relax in a comfortable chair. Typically, an EEG technician will attach electrodes to your scalp using adhesive. The adhesive is unlikely to cause damage to your scalp or hair. You can usually wash it out once you return home after the test.

During an EEG scan, you can typically expect to relax comfortably, as the test is painless.
During an EEG scan, you can typically expect to relax comfortably, as the test is painless.

The electrodes used for an EEG are flat metal disks that connect to a device used to transmit brain waves to a computer. The brain waves are enlarged and recorded on the computer for your doctor’s analysis. The test only analyzes your brain wave patterns. It cannot reveal your thoughts to the test taker or the doctor who analyzes your brain waves.

A patient may receive a sedative to help a person sleep if he or she is scheduled to have an EEG scan performed while he or she is asleep.
A patient may receive a sedative to help a person sleep if he or she is scheduled to have an EEG scan performed while he or she is asleep.

You are likely to spend most of an EEG scan with your eyes closed. The EEG technician may make several requests during the course of the test, however. For example, he may ask you to open and close your eyes or gaze at a photograph. He may also ask you to read, solve a simple math problem, or stare at a light. He may even ask you to breathe deeply in an effort to detect changes in your brain’s electrical activity.

An EEG scan measures the brain wave patterns of an individual.
An EEG scan measures the brain wave patterns of an individual.

If you are scheduled to have an EEG scan performed while you are asleep, you will likely receive a sedative to help you sleep during the test. As with a regular EEG scan, this test is intended to record and evaluate brain activity, which may appear different when you are asleep. You may, however, have to remain at the testing facility for a short time after an EEG scan that is performed while you are sleeping. This will allow the sedative to wear off fully. You will likely need to have a friend or family member drive you home after the test, though this is usually not necessary if you do not receive a sedative.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a TheHealthBoard writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a TheHealthBoard writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...

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    • During an EEG scan, you can typically expect to relax comfortably, as the test is painless.
      By: Tobilander
      During an EEG scan, you can typically expect to relax comfortably, as the test is painless.
    • A patient may receive a sedative to help a person sleep if he or she is scheduled to have an EEG scan performed while he or she is asleep.
      By: zhagunov_a
      A patient may receive a sedative to help a person sleep if he or she is scheduled to have an EEG scan performed while he or she is asleep.
    • An EEG scan measures the brain wave patterns of an individual.
      By: a40757se
      An EEG scan measures the brain wave patterns of an individual.
    • A doctor may order an EEG for patients suffering from headaches.
      By: JPC-PROD
      A doctor may order an EEG for patients suffering from headaches.
    • An EEG scan will measure electrical activity within the brain.
      By: Naeblys
      An EEG scan will measure electrical activity within the brain.