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J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 74:9 doi:10.1136/jnnp.74.1.9
  • Neurological stamp

Hans Berger (1873–1941), Richard Caton (1842–1926), and electroencephalography

Hans Berger recorded the first human electroencephalograms (EEGs) in 1924. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Jena, Germany, in 1897 and then joined the university psychiatric clinic directed by Otto Binswanger. There he remained until retirement in 1938. Berger succeeded Binswanger as director of the clinic and became Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Jena in 1919. In his early work Berger had hoped to discover the physiological basis of psychic phenomena. The results were disappointing and Berger turned to investigating electrical activity of the brain. He characterised the wave patterns including α and β waves and coined the term “electroencephalogram”. Berger’s paper Über das Elektrenkephalogramm des Menschen (On the EEG in humans), published in 1929 in the Archive für Psychiatre und Nervenkrankheiten, was the first …