Proof of concept evaluation of the electroencephalophone as a discriminator between wakefulness and general anaesthesia

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Depth of anaesthesia (DOA) monitors based on the electroencephalogram (EEG) are commonly used in anaesthetic practice. Their technology relies on mathematical analysis of the EEG waveform, generally resulting in a number which corresponds to anaesthetic depth. We have created a novel method of interpreting the EEG, which retains its underlying complexity. This method consists of turning the EEG into a sound: the electroencephalophone (EEP).


In a pilot study, we recorded awake and anaesthetized EEGs from six patients. We transformed each EEG into an audio signal using a ring buffer with a write frequency of 1 kHz and a read frequency of 48 kHz, thus elevating all output frequencies by a factor of 48. In essence, the listener hears the previous 12 s of EEG data compressed into 250 ms, updated every 250 ms. From these data, we generated a bank of 5 s audio clips, which were then used to train and test a sample of 23 anaesthetists.


After training, 21 of the 23 anaesthetists were able to use the EEP to correctly identify the conscious state of >5 of 10 randomly selected patients (P<0.001). The median score was 8 out of 10, with an inter-quartile range of 7–9.


The EEP shows promise as a DOA monitor. However, extensive validation would be required in a variety of clinical settings before it could be accepted into mainstream clinical practice.

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