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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

What Is It?

An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a recording of the brain's electrical activity. Metal electrodes attached to the skin on the outside of the head transform electrical activity into patterns, commonly called brain waves. A polygraph machine records the brain waves. In some cases, the waves are transmitted to a computer screen. A basic EEG takes about 45 minutes, with a range of 30 minutes to 90 minutes.

Lightweight EEG devices allow people to walk around and perform normal daily activities while the devices detect and record brain waves over longer periods of time.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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