Skip to Content
An evoked potential test measures the time it takes for nerves to
respond to stimulation. The size of the response is also measured. Nerves from
different areas of the body may be tested. Types of responses are:
Each type of response is recorded from brain waves by using
electrodes taped to the head. The visual evoked response (VER) is the most
commonly used evoked potential test in the diagnosis of
multiple sclerosis (MS).
Conducting gel and electrodes are applied to the scalp. The
location will depend on the type of response being recorded. For example, when
VERs are recorded, the electrodes are applied to the rear (occipital region) of
the scalp over the brain areas that register visual stimuli.
Stimuli are delivered:
Responses from the electrodes are recorded. The time between the
stimulation and the response is called the latency, which indicates the speed
at which the nerves pass a signal.
This test may be used when MS is suspected and a neurological
examination alone does not provide enough evidence.
For a clear diagnosis of MS, the doctor has to find evidence that
multiple parts of the central nervous system are affected. When there are
symptoms clearly caused by MS lesions of the spine but no visual symptoms, the
visual response may be tested anyway. Abnormal results in such cases mean that
there are also areas of damage (MS lesions) on the brain.
Findings of this test may include the following.
The time between the stimulation and the nerve's response is
within the normal range.
Some people who are free from symptoms in the nerve area tested
will still have abnormal responses in that area.
Abnormal response times can also be associated with other
neurological diseases or with damaged optic nerves and eyes.
An evoked potential test typically takes half an hour or longer to
Complete the medical test information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this test.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerBarrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology
Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015
Current as of:
February 20, 2015
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
© Copyright 2015 Rush-Copley Medical Center • 2000 Ogden Avenue; Aurora, IL 60504
Main: 630-978-6200 • Physician Referral & Information: 630-978-6700 or 866-4COPLEY (866-426-7539)