Normal EEG during the neonatal period: maturational aspects from premature to full-term newborns

Neurophysiol Clin. 2021 Jan;51(1):61-88. doi: 10.1016/j.neucli.2020.10.004. Epub 2020 Nov 22.


Electroencephalography (EEG) is the reference tool for the analysis of brain function, reflecting normal and pathological neuronal network activity. During the neonatal period, EEG patterns evolve weekly, according to gestational age. The first analytical criteria for the various maturational stages and standardized neonatal EEG terminology were published by a group of French neurophysiologists training in Paris (France) in 1999. These criteria, defined from analog EEG, were completed in 2010 with digital EEG analysis. Since then, this work has continued, aided by the technical progress in EEG acquisition, the improvement of knowledge on the maturating processes of neuronal networks, and the evolution of critical care. In this review, we present an exhaustive and didactic overview of EEG characteristics from extremely premature to full-term infants. This update is based on the scientific literature, enhanced by the study of normal EEGs of extremely premature infants by our group of neurophysiologists. For educational purposes, particular attention has been paid to illustrations using new digital tools.

Keywords: Cerebral maturation; EEG; Electroencephalogram; Premature newborn; Term newborn.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain
  • Electroencephalography*
  • France
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*