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Understanding the 10-20 System of EEG Electrode Placement

Understanding the 10-20 System of EEG Electrode Placement

In the evolving landscape of wireless EEG (Electroencephalography) devices, standardization underpins the precision of contextual brain data.  It encourages the widespread use of this technology and its role in pushing the boundaries of brain research and our understanding of human experience. 

EMOTIV’s adoption of the international 10-20 system for EEG electrode placement demonstrates our commitment to measuring reliable and reproducible EEG data with our wireless EEG devices.

This guide will cover the basics of the 10-20 EEG system. We explain why this system is important for precise brain activity measurements and EMOTIV's commitment to it for advancing our understanding of the human experience.

What is the 10-20 System?

The international 10-20 system was created by Herbert Jasper in the mid-20th century as a standardized method for positioning EEG electrodes on the scalp. The "10" and "20" refer to the actual and nominal percentages of the distance between specific landmarks on a subject's head.

The 10-20 system for EEG placement ensures a consistent and replicable framework for EEG placement across different subjects, which is crucial for ensuring consistent and comparable results across different EEG studies. 

Over time, the basic 10-20 EEG placement has been expanded to include more electrode sites as the need for higher spatial resolution in brain activity mapping has increased.

Components of the 10-20 System

The number of EEG electrodes or spatial resolution between devices varies. EMOTIV’s EPOC Series, FLEX, and Insight have a varying number of electrodes, but they are all placed on the 10-20 system. 

Landmarks: The system uses four key anatomical landmarks as references: 

  • the nasion (bridge of the nose), 
  • inion (back bump of the skull), 
  • the left and right preauricular points (just in front of the ears).

Measurement: Distances between these points are divided into 10% and 20% intervals, guiding the placement of electrodes in a standardized grid-like pattern.

Electrode Points: Electrodes are placed at specific points identified by letters which indicate underlying brain regions (F = Frontal, T = Temporal, P = Parietal, O = Occipital) and numbers (odd for the left hemisphere, even for the right, z for midline). For example, Fp1 represents a sensor placed over the left frontal pole.

Displaying 10-20 System of EEG Electrode Placement - 2.png

Above: 10-20 System for EEG Placement (left) and corresponding brain regions (right). 

Why EMOTIV Adopted the 10-20 System

Adopting the international 10-20 system into EMOTIV's EEG devices is vital for collecting consistent, reproducible data. By committing to this system, we’re facilitating the deeper exploration of the brain and accelerating the pace of discoveries and innovations in the field.

Minimizing Data Variability

By adopting a recognized system, EMOTIV’s EEG headsets minimize the variability in data that can result from different electrode placements, thereby enhancing the accuracy and reliability of the data.

Facilitating Reproducible Research

Reproducibility is a cornerstone of scientific research. EMOTIV’s adoption of the 10-20 system means that researchers can replicate studies knowing that the EEG sensor placement was consistent across subjects. This reproducibility is vital for advancing knowledge in fields like neuroscience, psychology, and cognitive science.

Supporting Diverse Research Needs

The 10-20 system's flexibility in terms of electrode placement makes it suitable for a wide range of research applications. Whether a study requires a high-density EEG electrode system like FLEX for comprehensive brain research, or you prefer the easy setup of an EEG headset like EPOC X, the 10-20 system facilitates coverage of the whole brain without compromising data quality.

Democratizing EEG Research

The 10-20 system simplifies the electrode placement process for researchers, especially those not specializing in EEG. EMOTIV has democratized EEG research by designing accessible portable EEG headsets. EMOTIV's EPOC X and Insight EEG headsets are popular with a broad range of researchers and citizen scientists who want to measure brain signals without the expense and limitations of traditional EEG equipment.

Promoting Standardization Across Platforms

EMOTIV’s adoption of the 10-20 system promotes consistency, not just within its own technology but across different EEG platforms and studies. This standardization is essential for comparative research and integrating EEG data from diverse sources.

Setting the Standard in Portable EEG

The 10-20 system has been fundamental in the field of EEG and remains a standard practice for electrode placement in EEG studies. Its creation marked a significant advancement in neuroscientific research, facilitating more detailed and accurate brain activity analysis.

EMOTIV sets the standard in wireless EEG technology with its dedication to precision and accessibility. Our adoption of the international 10-20 system is more than just a technical specification. It's our unwavering commitment to breaking the frontiers of neuroscience and helping advance our understanding of what it is to be human.

To discover more about EMOTIV's EEG devices, visit our website.


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