The brain is in a continuous state of producing electrical impulses in the brain tissue. Many conditions can alter the normal flow of these impulses. Conditions such as OCD, ADD, depression, anxiety and others have distinctive signatures noted in recorded brainwaves.
What is Brain Mapping?
Brain Mapping is the laymen’s term for a Quantitative Electroencephalogram (QEEG). This is a comprehensive analysis of the brainwave frequency bandwidths that are recorded in an EEG (Electroencephalogram).
Other brain mapping studies such as CT, MRI, and PET scans measure things like the blood flow to the cerebral area of the brain or structural integrity. QEEG measures the electrical activity in the brain. Sometimes the only signs of a problem early in a disease process may be subtle disruptions of the electrical flow and connectivity in the brain. These can be identified with a QEEG.
How is Brain Mapping done?
The test is painless for the patient. An elastic cap equipped with sensors is placed on the subjects head. The 19 sensors are then attached to a device that will record the brain activity. A special gel, much like those used in ultrasounds is used to improve conduction and this gel is squeezed onto each of the sensors on the cap. The total test time is usually about 45 minutes, taking approximately 15 minutes for preparation and about 15 to 30 minutes for the testing. During the test the subject is asked to remain very still, you may be asked to keep your eyes closed and then open for different parts of testing. Most of the time you are asked to perform mental tasks such as simple math problems or asked to read a passage in a book. These tasks cause your brain to access certain areas of function to complete them. During these tasks recordings are of those areas the brain has accessed to perform those specific tasks.
The recordings are interpreted and documented as the raw data is digitized and analyzed by a computer and reviewed by a skilled analyst to recognize any artifacts.
Brain Mapping in the Overall Assessment
The QEEG is a very useful study for pinpointing locations in the brain which could represent problems, but it is not able to determine exactly how much cognitive function has been diminished in the area. It is best used with other testing such as neuropsychological testing or MRI, SPECT or CT scans for full assessment and diagnosis.