Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was found to be characterized by a deviant pattern of electrocortical activity during resting state, particularly increased theta and decreased beta activity. The first objective of the present study is to confirm whether individuals with slow alpha peak frequency contribute to the finding of increased theta activity in ADHD. The second objective is to explore the relation between resting-state brain oscillations and specific cognitive functions. From 49 boys with ADHD and 49 healthy control boys, resting-state EEG during eyes open and eyes closed was recorded, and a variety of cognitive tasks were administered. Theta and beta power and theta/beta ratio were calculated using both fixed frequency bands and individualized frequency bands. As expected, theta/beta ratio, calculated using fixed frequency bands, was significantly higher in ADHD children than control children. However, this group effect was not significant when theta/beta ratio was assessed using individualized frequency bands. No consistent relation was found between resting-state brain oscillations and cognition. The present results suggest that previous findings of increased theta/beta ratio in ADHD may reflect individuals with slow alpha peak frequencies in addition to individuals with true increased theta activity. Therefore, the often reported theta/beta ratio in ADHD can be considered a non-specific measure combining several distinct neurophysiological subgroups such as frontal theta and slowed alpha peak frequencies. Future research should elucidate the functional role of resting-state brain oscillations by investigating neurophysiological subgroups, which may have a clearer relation to cognitive functions than single frequency bands.
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