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Pioneers of the EEG

Pioneers of the EEG

The Electroencaphalogram: A crucial and clinically useful invention

The electroencephalogram, or EEG, measures electrical activity in the brain and as such is an excellent tool to investigate brain function, but more importantly, also has many clinical applications such as in the diagnosis of epilepsy or sleep disorders and the treatment of ADHD. Many recent studies also implicate an important role for the EEG in Personalized Medicine or Precision Psychiatry where we recently discovered the EEG is very useful in predicting the efficacy of certain medications used in the treatment of depression.
It is difficult to imagine a world where the electroencephalogram does not exist. The EEG certainly contributed greatly to our knowledge of the brain and its workings, and although the spatial resolution of an EEG is not as precise as we would like it to be, the technique does enable us to detect millisecond-to-millisecond changes in our brain and as such it offers an almost real-time view of the brain’s electrical activity. There is no other tool that even comes close in achieving that.

Below you will find a series of short peer-reviewed videos documenting the history of the EEG and the pioneers that were instrumental in the discovery of the EEG and its applications. These materials can be used freely for educational and scientific purposes according to the CC-BYNC-SA-4.0 open-access license (for commercial usage please contact us), so feel free to spice-up your COVID-19 online lectures or embed in your website!

   EPISODE 1

The discovery of the electrical brain and the EEG

Who were the pioneers?

This short video introduces no less than seven scientists, from Richard Caton, who is credited with projecting the first EEG on a wall, using a string galvanometer, and Adolf Beck, via Vladimir Pravdich Neminsky who developed the first printed EEG, Hans Berger (first EEG of a human brain), Edgar Douglas Adrian to Herbert Jasper and Alfred Lee Loomis, the eccentric millionaire/scientist.

This first episode of our new series has been reviewed by Prof. A.M.L. Coenen.
Produced and presented by Brainclinics Insights.

   EPISODE 2

Richard Caton: the first ever EEG

Inventing the EEG seems almost a footnote in his life

In this short video we meet Richard Caton, who is credited with inventing the first EEG in 1874, publishing about it in 1875. In his lifetime he held many offices, and published on very diverse subjects, ranging from ancient greek culture to intestinal antisepsis, acromegaly, rheumatic endocarditis, cardiac dilatation and hypertrophy. He was also a founding-member of the Physiological Society and became Lord mayor of Liverpool in 1907.

This episode of our series has been peer-reviewed by Prof. A.M.L. Coenen.
Produced and presented by Brainclinics Insights.

   EPISODE 3

Adolf Beck: desynchronization in the electrical waves after stimulation

A great stride forward

Adolf Beck is credited with the localisation of sensory modalities of the cerebral cortex with evoked potentials and the cessation of electrical brain waves upon sensory stimulation. He was the first to describe the desynchronization in the electrical waves after stimulation.

These videos can be freely used for scientific and educational purposes (for commercial usage please contact us).

This episode has been peer-reviewed by Prof. A.M.L. Coenen (Radboud University).

Produced and presented by Brainclinics Insights

   EPISODE 4

Vladimir Pravdich-Neminsky: the first registration of the EEG

He spent a large part of his life running from terror

In the 4th episode of the Pioneers of the EEG series we become acquainted with Vladimir Pravdich-Neminsky who was born in Kiev. His discovery of what would later be known as A and B waves is important even to this day. Although he was not the first to make an EEG, he was the first to make a registration of one, thus furthering the field of Electroencephalography.

These videos can be freely used for scientific and educational purposes (for commercial usage please contact us).

This episode of our series has been peer-reviewed by Prof. A.M.L. Coenen.
Produced and presented by Brainclinics Insights.

   EPISODE 5

Hans Berger: The first human EEG

A true pioneer

Episode 5 of our Pioneers of the EEG series is about Hans Berger, who was the very first to record a human EEG, the first to use the term “Electroencephalography” and also the first to describe the alpha wave rhythm, also known as the Berger wave or Berger Rhythm.

These videos can be freely used for scientific and educational purposes (for commercial usage please contact us).

This episode has been peer-reviewed by Prof. A.M.L. Coenen (Radboud University).

Produced and presented by Brainclinics Insights

Download all original publications from Hans Berger (from 1900-1938) here

   EPISODE 6

Edgar Douglas Adrian: laying the groundwork for entrainment

Baron Adrian

Episode 6 of the Brainclinics “Pioneers of the EEG” series tells us about Nobel Prize winner Edgar Douglas Adrian and his research assistant Bryan Matthews.
Together they brought our knowledge of the brain to a higher plane.

These videos can be freely used for scientific and educational purposes (for commercial usage please contact us).

This episode has been peer reviewed by Prof. A.M.L. Coenen (Radboud University).
Conceptualized and produced by Brainclinics Insights.

   EPISODE 7

Alfred Lee Loomis: Sleep spindles and K-complex waves

An inspirational and successful pioneer

Episode 7 – also the last episode of this series – of the Brainclinics “Pioneers of the EEG” series concerns the enigmatic and reclusive Alfred Lee Loomis, attorney, millionaire, philanthropist, physicist, inventor of LORAN and radar. He was a scientist too, befriended with the likes of Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and Herbert Jasper. Alfred Lee Loomis conducted many EEG experiments in his private laboratory in Tuxedo Park where he discovered the qualitative changes in the EEG that accompany sleep and wakefulness (polysomnography), was the first to describe sleep spindles and K-complexes and was the first to apply conditioning principles to the EEG (currently also referred to as BCI or neurofeedback), thus a real pioneer of the EEG. For more details, also see the according chapter from the book Neurofeedback: How it all started here.

In 1939, with the unrest and war looming in Europe, Loomis decided to donate his EEG equipment to Halowell Davis’ group at Harvard Medical School and changed his research focus and became instrumental in many war-related technologies that changed the tide of WWII. President Franklin Roosevelt is said to have credited Loomis as second to Winston Churchill in turning the tide of World War II in the Allies favor.

These videos can be freely used for scientific and educational purposes (for commercial usage please contact us).

This episode has been peer reviewed by Prof. A.M.L. Coenen (Radboud University).
Conceptualized and produced by Brainclinics Insights.

Further reading

The history of the EEG and the beginnings of Neurofeedback are discussed in great, and often uniquely amusing detail in the book Neurofeedback: how it all started, by Martijn Arns and (dare we say the legendary) Maurice B. Sterman. Told, almost, from an insiders perspective, the book takes us on a journey through time and place, and we visit Richard Caton in 19th century England, Vladimir Pravdich Neminsky in pre-revolutionary Kiev, and Hans Berger in Jena in the early 1900s.
When we cross the Atlantic Ocean we learn more about enigmatic figures like Alfred Lee Loomis, Joe Kamiya and Jay Gunkelman, and their groundbreaking work in the field of conditioning.

  Continue watching

We are excited to present our brand new series of videos:
The Origins of Brain Stimulation.

We explore the history of electrical stimulation of the brain, show different methods of brain stimulation and investigate the efficacy of these methods as applied to various disorders.

 Additional Material

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All our educational videos are independently peer reviewed.