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Imaging Techniques in Medicine Research Paper

Engineering in Medicine: Evoked Potentials

Today, there are many forms of imaging available to the medical profession. Among the more well-known types include x-rays, ultrasounds, CTscans, PETscans, and the most groundbreaking, the MRI. One lesser known form of imaging is the technique of evoked potentials. The evoked potential uses stimulation of the body to force activity in the brain. Using electrodes, a clinician can take signals directly from the brain without any intrusive methods. The electrodes remain on the surface of the skin and unlike many other imaging techniques, evoked potentials do not involve any type of ionizing radiation that would be dangerous to the body.

Since evoked potentials involve the stimulation of the body, they are directly related to the arousing of the sense. There are three main types of evoked potentials: visual, auditory, and somatosensory. Although there are also experimental studies being conducted with gustatory and olfactory evoked potentials, vision, hearing, and touch have shown the most successful clinical uses. In this paper, visual evoked potentials will be covered in depth and auditory and somatosensory evoked potentials will be reviewed in brief. The most common clinical uses of this technique are to obtain ideas of brain activity by monitoring the size of amplitudes and latencies and subsequently diagnosing diseases and disorders concerning neural activity.

The most common potential obtained is the visual evoked potential (VEP). Before explaining how a VEP is obtained, however, the basic physiology of the visual system must be understood. Each individual eye receives light from both the right and left visual fields. Upon entering the eye, they hit the retina and then they are transferred to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the eye’s connection to the brain. The optic nerve of each eye cross at the optic chiasm, where the information from both the right and left visual fields are separated. Thereafter, they are directed into the opposite hemisphere of the brain via the optic tract. The information is then brought to the occipital cortex at the rear of the brain. This is also called the primary visual cortex.

Today, a more modern form of the VEP is the multifocal visual evoked potential, which through different testing techniques and forms of analysis can take signals from various locations, forming a more complete image of the...

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