Human Psychophysiology Laboratory


Linking Brain Activity with Development, Learning, and Behavior

What is EEG?

Electroencephalography (EEG) is a recording of electrical brain activity from the scalp.

  • Brain cells generate extremely small electrical charges. These charges add together so that electrical activity can be detected at the scalp.
  • This electrical activity is very small and cannot be felt. It must be magnified thousands of times to be large enough for a computer to display.
  • EEG sensors can detect changes in electrical activity. Measuring differences in brain responses allows researchers to study how the brain works.

Why do Kennedy Center researchers use EEG?

At the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, researchers strive to unlock the mysteries of development and learning. We are using EEG technology

  • to identify patterns of brain activity that match with different thought processes or behaviors (for example, when listening to words or looking at pictures)
  • to examine differences in brain activity due to disabilities (for example, are there differences in brain activity when children with language problems hear words or when people with autism see faces?)
  • to better understand why treatment methods are effective (for example, how a language training program or a new medicine change brain activity)
  • to predict who is most likely to benefit from particular treatments

How do we measure EEG?

We use high resolution EEG technology to record from all over the scalp.

  • A soft net with many small sponges is placed on the participant’s head
  • The sensors inside the sponges detect electrical activity produced by the brain and send the information to a computer.
  • Researchers analyze the EEG recordings to identify the specific brain responses.

Key Personnel