Quantifying Motor Experience in the Infant Brain: EEG Power, Coherence, and Mu Desynchronization

Front Psychol. 2016 Feb 18;7:216. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00216. eCollection 2016.


The emergence of new motor skills, such as reaching and walking, dramatically changes how infants engage with the world socially and cognitively. Several examples of how motor experience can cascade into cognitive and social development have been documented, yet a significant knowledge gap remains in our understanding of whether these observed behavioral changes are accompanied by underlying neural changes. We propose that electroencephalography (EEG) measures such as power, coherence, and mu desynchronization are optimal tools to quantify motor experience in the infant brain. In this mini-review, we will summarize existing infant research that has separately assessed the relation between motor, cognitive, or social development with coherence, power, or mu desynchronization. We will discuss how the reviewed neural changes seen in seemingly separate developmental domains may be linked based on existing behavioral evidence. We will further propose that power, coherence, and mu desynchronization be used in research exploring the links between motor experience and cognitive and social development.

Keywords: EEG Coherence; EEG power; cognitive development; infants; motor development; mu desynchronization; social development.

Publication types

  • Review