What are evoked potentials (EPs)?

Updated: Oct 25, 2019
  • Author: Andrew B Evans, MD; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Answer

Answer

Evoked potentials (EPs), or evoked responses, measure the electrophysiologic responses of the nervous system to a variety of stimuli. In theory, almost any sensory modality can be tested; however, in clinical practice, only a few are used on a routine basis. The EPs most frequently encountered are the following:

  • Visual evoked potentials (VEPs; these include both flash and checkerboard types)

  • Short-latency somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs)

  • Short-latency brainstem auditory evoked potentials (BAEPs)

Late evoked responses are generally used for studying higher cortical functions (eg, P300 in Alzheimer disease). Their clinical usefulness is limited by the experimental paradigm, and they are not used routinely or widely in general clinical neurology. Nevertheless, late evoked responses show promise and may make more inroads into clinical settings in the near future. Some centers have developed testing paradigms for olfactory and gustatory evoked responses as well.


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