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Are Electrode Caps Worth the Investment? An Evaluation of EEG Methods in Undergraduate Neuroscience Laboratory Courses and Research



Are Electrode Caps Worth the Investment? An Evaluation of EEG Methods in Undergraduate Neuroscience Laboratory Courses and Research



Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education 15(1): A29-A37



Electroencephalography (EEG) is a common neuroscience technique that is more accessible to undergraduate programs than expensive techniques such as fMRI and single-cell recording. The use of EEG can provide undergraduates with firsthand neuroscience research experience without taking too many financial resources away from a program. There are multiple types of EEG equipment that can be used, including individual electrodes and electrode caps. This study used surveys administered to students who were in a neuroscience laboratory course, conducting research, or participating in research in order to discern which of these two EEG setups is preferred by undergraduates. According to average reaction scores calculated from the surveys, laboratory students tended to prefer individual electrodes over electrode caps, and when explicitly asked about their overall preference, a majority of laboratory students chose individual electrodes over electrode caps. Additionally, comparable levels of improvement in learning objectives and the quality of data collected in laboratory sessions were found across methods. Student researchers' ratings revealed a marginal preference for caps over individual electrodes, and all 5 researchers surveyed chose caps on a discriminate choice question. Research participants' ratings of caps and individual electrodes, however, were not significantly different. These results do not point to a concrete recommendation of one setup over the other but rather suggest that either setup could be a viable option. Therefore, we conclude that programs can comfortably decide which to use based on their own needs and resources as well as the relative advantages and disadvantages of each setup. For example, individual electrodes may be better for programs with low budgets looking to introduce students to EEG data recording, whereas electrode caps may be better for programs looking to better prepare students for future EEG research or to perform multichannel recordings.

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PMID: 27980468


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