Development of infant sustained attention and its relation to EEG oscillations: an EEG and cortical source analysis study

Dev Sci. 2018 May;21(3):e12562. doi: 10.1111/desc.12562. Epub 2017 Apr 5.


The current study examined the relation between infant sustained attention and infant EEG oscillations. Fifty-nine infants were tested at 6 (N = 15), 8 (N = 17), 10 (N = 14), and 12 (N = 13) months. Three attention phases, stimulus orienting, sustained attention, and attention termination, were defined based on infants' heart rate changes. Frequency analysis using simultaneously recorded EEG focused on infant theta (2-6 Hz), alpha (6-9 Hz), and beta (9-14 Hz) rhythms. Cortical source analysis of EEG oscillations was conducted with realistic infant MRI models. Theta synchronization was found over fontal pole, temporal, and parietal electrodes during infant sustained attention for 10 and 12 months. Alpha desynchronization was found over frontal, central and parietal electrodes during sustained attention. This alpha effect started to emerge at 10 months and became well established by 12 months. No difference was found for the beta rhythm between different attention phases. The theta synchronization effect was localized to the orbital frontal, temporal pole, and ventral temporal areas. The alpha desynchronization effect was localized to the brain regions composing the default mode network including the posterior cingulate cortex and precuneus, medial prefrontal cortex, and inferior parietal gyrus. The alpha desynchronization effect was also localized to the pre- and post-central gyri. The present study demonstrates a connection between infant sustained attention and EEG oscillatory activities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Alpha Rhythm / physiology*
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Beta Rhythm / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Theta Rhythm / physiology*