EEG Measurement of Adolescent Brain Performance: The community feedback period for this idea began on 2/6/2019 and ended on 4/7/2019 *STATUS UPDATE*

January 31, 2019


Electroencephalogram (EEG) is a diagnostic test recognized to detect seizures, sleep disorders and other neurological conditions. The EEG is not a screening test – meaning a test to detect disease prior to occurrence – but instead a test do detect disease when it is actually occurring, such as when a person is having a seizure or partial seizure.

EEG is essentially a device that measures electro-chemical voltage changes on the surface of the skull. The submitter has not provided any information as to how measuring voltage changes at the surface of the skull relates to mental illness nor “brain performance.” More traditional neuro-psychiatric tests provide better information about brain performance, but then only in relation to localizing a lesion similar to MRI/CT studies (

It is my opinion that EEG is no better at measuring brain performance or detecting mental illness than a flip of a coin. EEG is not within the scope of practice of a Psychiatrist – with the exception of measuring treatment voltages during electroshock therapy and possibly trans-magnetic stimulation (TMS). This opinion is not from a licensed nor board certified professional. Check with a licensed or board certified professional for a definitive answer but it will likely be similar to mine.

EEG testing is commonly used to help diagnose and monitor seizures, epilepsy, head injuries and tumors, and sleeping problems. Additionally, it has been used in the assessment of electrical activity in the brain among children already diagnosed with ADHD. EEG results have been studied among patients with PTSD, depression and anxiety. However, whether it is used as a diagnostic test is still inconclusive based on the current literature. With this in mind:
How will parents be informed about the testing process and about any testing limitations?
How should these results be distributed and presented to parents?
Would this project include mental health support to the families who participate?
How do you envision a child’s protected health information would be protected within a school setting?

Thank you for your idea submission. Upon review and discussion, it was discovered that similar projects have been done in Orange County through the Amen Clinic and it is unclear what new learning this project could contribute to the field of mental health. The Innovation team is unable to continue exploring this idea under the MHSA Innovation component as currently proposed.

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