Applications of Electroencephalography to Characterize Brain Activity: Perspectives in Stroke

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A wide array of neuroimaging technologies are now available that offer unprecedented opportunities to study the brain in health and disease. Each technology has associated strengths and weaknesses that need to be considered to maximize their utility, especially when used in combination. One imaging technology, electroencephalography (EEG), has been in use for more than 80 years, but as a result of recent technologic advancements EEG has received renewed interest as an inexpensive, noninvasive and versatile technique to evaluate neural activity in the brain. In part, this is due to new opportunities to combine EEG not only with other imaging modalities, but also with neurostimulation and robotics technologies. When used in combination, noninvasive brain stimulation and EEG can be used to study cause-and-effect relationships between interconnected brain regions providing new avenues to study brain function. Although many of these approaches are still in the developmental phase, there is substantial promise in their ability to deepen our understanding of brain function. The ability to capture the causal relationships between brain function and behavior in individuals with neurologic disorders or injury has important clinical implications for the development of novel biomarkers of recovery and response to therapeutic interventions. The goals of this paper are to provide an overview of the fundamental principles of EEG; discuss past, present, and future applications of EEG in the clinical management of stroke; and introduce the technique of combining EEG with a form of noninvasive brain stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation, as a powerful synergistic research paradigm to characterize brain function in both health and disease.Video Abstract available (see Supplemental Digital Content 1, for more insights from the authors.

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