The American Clinical Neurophysiology Society (ACNS) was founded in 1946, originally named the American Electroencephalographic Society (AEEGS). In 1995, AEEGS changed its name to the current designation, ACNS, to encompass the scope of its mission and goals more accurately. ACNS is the major professional organization in the United States devoted to the establishment and maintenance of standards of professional excellence in clinical neurophysiology in the practice of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry. ACNS members utilize neurophysiology techniques in the diagnosis and management of patients with disorders of the nervous system and in research examining the function of the nervous system in health and disease.
ACNS is part of the North America Chapter of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology, together with the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM) and the Canadian Society of Clinical Neurophysiologists (CSCN).
1935-45: The first American reports of human EEG activity (1935) rapidly attracted increasing numbers of academic and clinical investigators who were concerned with functions of the brain. By the end of World War II, informal communications among those working with EEG had suggested the desirability of forming a professional society dedicated to its applications.
1946: Representatives from several interested groups, including the American Medical Association, the American Physiological Society, and the American Neurological Association, organized the American EEG Society. Pro tem officers were: Herbert H. Jasper, President; Frederic A. Gibbs, Vice-President; Robert S. Schwab, Secretary; and Mary A.B. Brazier, Treasurer. Forty-four established experimental and clinical EEGers joined them as Charter Members of the Society.
1947: The First Annual Meeting was held in Atlantic City NJ on June 13, 14, and 15. Among the topics discussed were: (1) standards for the design and construction of clinical EEG instruments; (2) procedures to be used when carrying out clinical EEG examinations; (3) education and training, and (4) certification of clinical EEGers. The pro tem officers were re-elected for a second term, and 25 new members were added.
1948: The Society and its members gave financial aid to the International Federation of Societies for EEG and Clinical Neurophysiology to begin publication of Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, familiarly known as “The EEG Journal”. The first issue appeared in 1949. The Editor was Herbert Jasper, and many members of AEEGS were among the editorial staff.
1949: A five-member semi-autonomous Board of Qualification of the American EEG Society (ABQEEG) was appointed and assigned the task of developing examinations to define competence in the practice of clinical EEG. The first Certificates were dated “June, 1949.” In 1962 the Board’s base was widened to include representatives from the American Neurological Association, the American Academy of Neurology, and the American Psychiatric Association and it was incorporated as a wholly-independent body, The American Board of Clinical Electroencephalography, Inc., familiarly known as ABQEEG. In 1986 ABQEEG became The American Board of Clinical Neurophysiology (ABCN), which certifies, by examination, applicants whose training has prepared them to specialize in General Clinical Neurophysiology, Epilepsy Monitoring, or Neurophysiologic Intraoperative Monitoring.
1959: The American EEG Society assisted a group of dedicated EEG technologists who were “Subscribing Members” of AEEGS to establish themselves as an entirely independent professional group, which incorporated as the American Society of EEG Technologists, ASET, now known as ASET – The Neurodiagnostic Society. An ad hoc committee held a Colloqium on Teaching Methods that led to wider adoption of standard procedures in clinical EEG.
1964: Operating with a supporting grant from USPHS, the Committee on Training and Education of the American EEG Society, in conjunction with an ad hoc committee of the American Society of EEG Technologists, organized a conference dedicated to defining qualifications of EEG technologists by direct examinations. From this emerged The American Board of Registration of EEG Technologists (ABRET), the nationally-accepted accreditation facility for EEG technologists.
1966: Highlighting the Society’s 20th Annual Meeting, the Committee on Training and Education organized and presented (with support provided by the USPH Service) its first Course in Clinical Electroencephalography. This has become an annual consolidating update for advanced as well as beginning EEGers.
1969: The American EEG Society and the American Society of EEG Technologists, later joined by the American Medical EEG Association, led the way to establishing the Joint Review Committee on Education and Training of EEG Technologists. This functions under the umbrella of the American Medical Association’s Council on Allied Health Education. Through this, ACNS continues to help shape national educational standards for EEG technologists.
1970: The first four of a series of Guidelines in EEG were published, defining the wide spectrum of technical and professional competencies necessary in clinical applications of EEG and evoked potentials. The Guidelines now cover 17 topics and and are available on the ACNS web site.
1979: “A Syllabus for Clinical Electroencephalographers”, written in collaboration with ABQEEG, defines the minimum essentials required for training in clinical EEG. It serves as a guide for those preparing for the certifying examinations and was updated in 1984.
1984: The Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology, a dedicated and authoritative source of critical review and commentary on topics related to clinical applications of neurophysiology, was initiated to serve as the Society’s quarterly publication.
A program for Laboratory Accreditation was started, creating a benchmark for maintaining minimum standards for clinical EEG laboratories. This includes assessment of: established qualifications of laboratory personnel; equipment; quality of EEG records; patient safety; internal program infectious diseases control; and provisions for continuing education.
1986: Coincident with its 40th Annual Meeting, and in recognition of the many contributions made to the fields of theoretical and clinical neurophysiology by its first president, the Society created the Herbert H. Jasper Award.
1995: The Society’s name is changed to The American Clinical Neurophysiology Society (formerly the American Electroencephalographic Society).
1996: The Society holds a Fiftieth Anniversary banquet at the Annual Meeting in Boston. Twenty-two of those who have held the office of President attend.
1997: The Pierre Gloor Award and Lecture is initiated to recognize current research efforts that would have significant impact on the field of clinical neurophysiology. The lecture has become part of the Annual Scientific Meeting.
2000: The first ACNS Inservice Exam is offered to neurology and clinical neurophysiology trainees. This examination was designed for assessment of knowledge of clinical neurophysiology trainees, and for self-assessment of practicing clinical neurophysiologists.
2006: ACNS merges with the American Association of Clinical Neurophysiology (AACN), a smaller group founded in the 1970s that sought to encompass both clinical and peripheral neurophysiology. As a result, ACNS strengthens its educational and advocacy efforts in peripheral neurophysiology in addition to its traditional focus on central clinical neurophysiology. The Annual Meeting and Courses dates are moved from autumn to mid-winter and now include expanded courses in EMG and parallel peripheral neurophysiology scientific sessions.
2008: ACNS endorses the new laboratory accreditation process of the American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists. The Laboratory Accreditation Board of ABRET recognizes Electroencephalography Laboratories meeting technical standards and demonstrating quality output (LAB-EEG), Neurophysiology Intraoperative Monitoring Laboratories demonstrating quality management of the NIOM program and adherence to established standards (LAB-NIOM), and Long-Term Monitoring Laboratories exhibiting quality Epilepsy and ICU/Critical Care EEG Monitoring programs. Included in the criteria for accreditation is adherence to the national standards (Guidelines) for EEG, NIOM, and LTM acquisition established by ACNS.
2010: The American Clinical Magnetoencephalography Society (ACMEGS), founded in the Spring of 2006 to improve the use of MEG in patient care, meets parallel to the ACNS Courses. In 2011, ACNS jointly sponsors Continuing Medical Education credit for the full-day ACMEGS Course in Magnetoencephalography.
ACNS holds its first free-standing fall course in Intraoperative Neurophysiologic Monitoring to meet the education needs of practitioners in this rapidly-evolving field. In 2011, a parallel course in Continuous EEG Monitoring in the Intensive Care Unit is added.
2017: The Cosimo Ajmone-Marsan Award is was established to recognize the best research paper published in the Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology, and is named after the first editor of the Journal.
Now well-settled into its second half-century, with a membership of over 1,500 healthcare professionals, the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society continues to establish and maintain standards of professional excellence in the clinical applications of cerebral neurophysiology.
Its two main educational activities, the Scientific Program of the Annual Meeting and the Annual Courses in clinical neurophysiology, provide an annual forum for exchanging information about the electrical activities of the human brain and its disorders. These programs are designed to provide “state of the science” knowledge in clinical neurophysiology. The scope of the topics has expanded since the founding of the ACNS.
Originally, the Society was most concerned with the establishment of guidelines for practice and the understanding of electroencephalography (EEG). With subsequent development and application of new techniques and further understanding of disease processes, the interests of ACNS membership have broadened. This has been reflected in the education and mission statement and in the CME program, which now includes all aspects of clinical neurophysiology: electroencephalography, evoked potentials, electromyography, nerve conduction studies, intraoperative monitoring, polysomnography and other sleep technology, quantitative neurophysiological methods, magnetoencephalography, sleep disorders, epilepsy, neuromuscular disorders, brain stimulation, brain-computer interfacing, and related areas.
ACNS is a strong advocate for appropriate training in and practice of clinical neurophysiology techniques, and collaborates with other professional societies on strategies to advance the quality of patient care and improve patient outcomes.