Resting EEG theta power correlates with cognitive performance in healthy older adults

Psychophysiology. 2011 Aug;48(8):1083-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2010.01173.x. Epub 2011 Jan 24.


We address the degree to which resting EEG bandpower is associated with cognitive performance in 73 healthy older adults (aged 56-70). Relative theta (4-6.5 Hz) power was significantly correlated with immediate and delayed verbal recall, attention, and executive function measures. Relative delta and alpha power and peak alpha frequency did not correlate with any cognitive measures. These data indicate that high resting theta power in healthy older adults is associated with better cognitive function and may be a marker of healthy neurocognitive aging. Comparison of these with previous findings suggests that two forms of theta-frequency oscillations may exist; one indicative of healthy neurocognitive function and the other, EEG/alpha slowing linked to (future) substantial cognitive decline. Future EEG investigations of cognitive aging or decline should analyze both relative theta power and degree of EEG/alpha slowing so as not to confound these.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted