Behavioural and EEG responses to auditory stimuli during sleep in newborn infants and in infants aged 3 months

Biol Psychol. 1990 Dec;31(3):213-27. doi: 10.1016/0301-0511(90)90035-u.


Two studies were conducted in order to assess EEG and behavioural responsiveness to auditory stimuli as a function of sleep state in infants. The subjects in the first experiment were 11 infants aged 3 months, and in the second study the responsiveness of 8 infants aged 3 months was compared with that of 8 newborn infants. The stimuli ranged in intensity from 36 to 90 dB and were presented using a modification of the method of constant stimuli. The occurrence and intensity of behavioural responses were recorded by a trained observer. Electroencephalogram (EEG) responses were defined as EEG desynchronization and were identified by a Fast Fourier Transform algorithm. The results of the two studies showed that infants were more responsive during active sleep (AS) than during quiet sleep (QS) and gave behavioural responses at lower stimulus intensities than EEG responses. Behavioural responsiveness and EEG responsiveness during AS increased as a function of age, while EEG responsiveness during QS decreased. The marked suppression of EEG responsiveness during QS at 3 months of age is thought to be a consequence of developmental changes in sleep mechanisms--an effect which may have clinical implications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn / growth & development
  • Infant, Newborn / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Reflex, Startle / physiology
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Stages
  • Wakefulness / physiology