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Evoked potential emerging as valuable medical tool

JAMA. 1981;246(12):1287-1288. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320120003001.
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Recently announced clinical applications for the evoked potential (EP) indicate that still more computerized devices are in the offing for hospitals and physicians' offices.

Sensitive, objective, and noninvasive, the EP is beginning to play a large part in diagnostic, prognostic, and monitoring techniques, according to researchers at recent international conferences in New York City and Lake Forest, Ill. In particular, neurologists, ophthalmologists, otolaryngologists, and psychiatrists have begun using EPs to evaluate both perceptual processes and higher brain functions, such as attention and expectancy.

In a sense, EPs can do for physiology what computed tomographic (CT) scans can do for anatomy; both rely on computer technology to show otherwise undetectable features of the brain. Where-as an EEG measures "spontaneous" constant brain activity, an EP measures minute voltage changes produced in response to a specific stimulus—a light pattern, a click, or a shock, for example. The signal recorded by an EEG often


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