Electroencephalogram (‘EEG’) is a non-invasive technique for measuring brain activity. It involves placing small sensors on the head that record changes in potential difference (measured in micro-volts). This electrical activity originates in the brain and therefore provides a unique insight how the brain reacts to external stimuli. It is a completely safe and painless procedure. Click here for more information about how EEG is recorded .

EEG is a particularly useful tool in the discipline of cognitive science, as it can reveal changes in brain state associated with differing levels of arousal or under different experimental conditions. It operates with excellent temporal precision (recording data at a rate of up to 2000 data points per second), and therefore reveals much about the chronology of mental processes. Much psychological research is based on measuring the speed and accuracy of participants’ responses, i.e. recording how long it takes to press a button in response to a particular stimulus. EEG can expand upon this method of indexing cognitive processing by showing us what happens in the brain before, during and after a response button is pressed.

Our Research

We have an active EEG research group in the department of Psychology at the University of Sheffield. We use EEG to address a wide-range of questions, including: Does the brain knows (before we do) that we are going to make an error? What changes take place in the brain when we see a target that we’ve been searching for? Why does a cue about the location of a target that comes from someone’s eyes affect the brain differently to a cue that comes from an arrow? How can we apply new types of analysis to identify which areas of the brain are active while we are at rest? We are also interested in using EEG to identify how brain activity differs in those who have developmental disorders (e.g. dyslexia and autism ), and in identifying neurological markers for atypical brain development.

Our Equipment and Skills

The Department of Psychology houses two state-of-the-art high density (128 channel) EEG systems (Biosemi Active II and Electrical Geodiscs). We use a range of techniques to analyse data including; event related potentials (ERPs), dipole modelling, spectral and wavelet analyses, and independent component analysis.

EEG Reading Group

The EEG reading group meets once a month in the department of Psychology to discuss EEG-based journal articles. The aims of the group are three-fold: to provide members of the University with the opportunity to learn about EEG and to explore whether it may play a role in their own research; to provide staff and students who have varying levels of EEG expertise with an opportunity to discuss recent developments in the field; and to act as a forum for those of us who are actively involved in EEG research to discuss our designs, data and results.

If you would like to join the group, please contact Elizabeth Milne. Scroll down for a list of papers that have been / will be discussed. 

Contact for further information

If you would like further information about EEG research at the University of Sheffield, if you are an academic who would like to collaborate with EEG researchers, or if you are interested in being a volunteer in one of our research projects and experiencing EEG for yourself, please contact Dr Elizabeth Milne .

Reading Group Papers

11th October (presented by Elizabeth Milne):

Modulation of visual event-related potentials by spatial and non-spatial visual selective attention

Rugg et al. 1987, Neuropsychologia

8th November (presented by Elizabeth Milne):

Pre-stimulus spectral EEG patterns and the visual evoked response.

Brandt et al. 1991, Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology

13th December (presented by Ben Dornan):

Talking off the top of your head: toward a mental prosthesis utilizing event-related brain potentials

Farwell & Donchin, 1988, Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology

14th February (presented by Ying Zheng)

Instantaneous correlation of excitation and inhibition during ongoing and sensory-evoked activities

Okun & Lampl, 2008, Nature Neuroscience

14th March (presented by Yanjing Wu)

Brain Activity During Speaking: From Syntax to Phonology in 40 Milliseconds

van Turennout et al. 2008, Science

18th April (presented by Stephanie Dunn)

Target resolution in visual search involves the direct suppression of distractors: evidence from electrophysiology.

Hilimire et al. 2012, Psychophysiology

19th June (presented by Elizabeth Milne)

Dynamic Brain Sources of Visual Evoked Potentials

Makeig et al. 2002, Science

18th July (presented by Alex Zaytsev)

Mu rythm (de)synchronization and EEG single-trial classification of different motor imagery tasks

Pfurtscheller et al. 2006, Neuroimage

5th September (presented by Abby Dickinson)

Disordered visual processing and oscillatory brain activity in autism and Williams syndrome

Grice et al. 2001, Neuroreport

10th October (presented by Liat Levita)

Potentiation of the Early Visual Response to Learned Danger Signals in Adults and Adolescents

14th November (presented by Jenny Thomson)

Behavioural effects of trancranial direct current stimulation induced dorsolateral prefrontal cortex plasticity in alcohol dependence.

Croce de Silva et al. 2013, J. Physiol Paris

10th December (presented by Liz Milne and Jenny Thomson)

Live demonstration of tDCS and mobile EEG (+ mince pies!)

10th April 2014 (presented by Liz Milne)

EEG gamma-band synchronisation in visual coding from childhood to old age: Evidence from evoked power and inter-trial phase locking.

Werkle-Bergner et al. Clinical Neurophysiology, 2009

Thursday 1st May (presented by Dan Denis)

Action experience, more than observation influences Mu rythm desynchronisation

Canon et al. 2014 PLOS ONE

Thursday 5th June (presented by Lizzy Kirkham)

Childhood trauma is associated with altered corticcal arousal: insights from an EEG study

Howells et al. 2012, Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience

Thursday 10th July (presented by Tom Stafford)

Characterising the dynamics of mental representations: the temporal generalisation method

King and Dehaene, 2014, Trends in Cognitive Sciences