Peak individual alpha frequency qualifies as a stable neurophysiological trait marker in healthy younger and older adults

Psychophysiology. 2013 Jun;50(6):570-82. doi: 10.1111/psyp.12043. Epub 2013 Apr 3.


The individual alpha frequency (IAF) of the human EEG reflects systemic properties of the brain, is highly heritable, and relates to cognitive functioning. Not much is known about the modifiability of IAF by cognitive interventions. We report analyses of resting EEG from a large-scale training study in which healthy younger (20-31 years, N = 30) and older (65-80 years, N = 28) adults practiced 12 cognitive tasks for ∼100 1-h sessions. EEG was recorded before and after the cognitive training intervention. In both age groups, IAF (and, in a control analysis, alpha amplitude) did not change, despite large gains in cognitive performance. As within-session reliability and test-retest stability were high for both age groups, imprecise measurements cannot account for the findings. In sum, IAF is highly stable in healthy adults up to 80 years, not easily modifiable by cognitive interventions alone, and thus qualifies as a stable neurophysiological trait marker.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Alpha Rhythm / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Young Adult