Age-related changes in the EEG in an eyes-open condition: I. Normal development

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International Journal of Psychophysiology


This study investigated age related changes in the EEG of normal children in an eyes-open condition, in order to provide developmental norms for the study of children and adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) – see our companion paper (Mason et al., submitted). EEG was recorded at 17 sites from 75 children (63 boys and 12 girls, in the approximately 5:1 ratio common in AD/HD) between the ages of 5 and 16 years. They comprised three groups, each of 25 children (21 boys and 4 girls), divided into Young (5–8 years), Middle (9–12 years), and Old (13–16 years). The EEG was recorded during an eyes-open resting condition and Fourier transformed to provide estimates for total power, and absolute and relative power in the delta, theta, alpha and beta bands. Total power and absolute delta, theta, alpha, and beta decreased with increasing age, as did relative delta, while relative alpha increased with increasing age. Changes occurred faster in the posterior regions for total power, absolute theta and alpha, relative theta, and in frontal regions for absolute and relative beta. Some lateral developmental effects differed with band. These results indicate that maturation effects observed in the eyes-open EEG show some similarities to those reported in eyes-closed conditions, although substantial differences are apparent in the maturation of fast wave activity, particularly alpha. The data provide simple age-norms for eyes-open investigations of EEG differences in young clinical groups, particularly AD/HD. They encourage further investigations of the activational effects of this simple eyes-closed/eyes-open manipulation, which may aid understanding of the energetics of behaviour.

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