Evoked Potential Testing

Your healthcare provider may order evoked potential tests. These check the signals your brain and spinal cord (parts of your nervous system) get from other parts of your body. These tests are also used to check for problems with:

  • Vision

  • Hearing

  • Sensory or motor function

What is evoked potential testing?

There are several types of evoked potential tests:

  • Visual

  • Brainstem auditory

  • Motor

  • Somatosensory

Your healthcare provider may order any or all these tests. They show if nerve impulses are conducting at the right speed and intensity. The signals are responses to what you see, hear, or feel during the tests.

During the test, the technologist will look at wavy lines ( waveforms) on a screen or on paper. These lines show the activity in your brain and other parts of your body. They are studied to help figure out your test results. They can help your healthcare provider diagnose and treat you. For instance, in people with multiple sclerosis, the evoked potentials are slowed down because they don't conduct in the right way. These tests are also used during surgery to help the surgeon to safely do some procedures.

  • The visual evoked potential test may be used to check for vision or visual processing problems.

  • The brainstem auditory evoked potential test may be used to check your hearing and auditory processing.

  • The motor evoked potential test may be used to test motor function signals from the brain and spinal cord. This is very helpful in spine surgery.

  • The somatosensory evoked potential test may be used to check the nerve pathways between the peripheral nerves, spinal cord, and brain.

Woman with electrodes on head looking at checkerboard screen during visual evoked potential test.
Visual evoked potential test

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Online Medical Reviewer: Joseph Campellone MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2021
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