by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that will show the electrical activity of the brain.
Reasons for Test
An EEG may be done to look for changes in brain activity after an injury or illness such as:
It may also be used to look for disorders of the brain, such as seizures.
There are no major problems that can happen from having this test.
What to Expect
Prior to Test
Before the test:
Electrodes will be placed around your scalp for the test. Shampoo your hair the day of the test so that they attach better. Do not use hair styling products.
People who have seizures should arrange for a ride to and from the test.
Description of Test
You will be asked to sit in a chair or lie on a bed. Electrodes will be placed on your scalp with special gel or paste. The electrodes may also be part of a cap that is slipped over your head. They will record the brain's electrical activity. You will be asked to close your eyes and be still for most of the test. You may also need to:
A video of the test may be taken.
The electrodes will be taken off and you will be able to go home. You may need to stay longer if you are being treated for another problem.
How Long Will It Take?
The test will take about 1 hour. People who are in the hospital may have the test done over a number of days.
Will It Hurt?
No. The EEG electrodes sit on top of the skin and do not cause pain.
The results will be reviewed by a specialist. It will take 1 to 2 weeks for the doctor to get the results and share them with you.
Call Your Doctor
If you have had seizures, call your doctor if your seizures change after the test.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Canadian Neurological Sciences Federation
EEG (electroencephalogram). Kid's Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed April 6, 2020.
Gavvala JR, Schuele SU. New-Onset seizure in adults and adolescents: a review. JAMA. 2016;316(24):2657-2668.
Schuele SU. Evaluation of seizure etiology from routine testing to genetic evaluation. Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2019;25(2):322-342.
Seizure in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/seizure-in-adults . Updated February 4, 2020. Accessed April 6, 2020.
Seizure in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/seizure-in-children . Updated August 9, 2018. Accessed April 6, 2020.
Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 4/6/2020
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.