Longitudinal changes in aperiodic and periodic activity in electrophysiological recordings in the first seven months of life

Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2021 Feb:47:100895. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2020.100895. Epub 2020 Dec 10.


Neuronal oscillations emerge in early human development. These periodic oscillations are thought to rapidly change in infancy and stabilize during maturity. Given their numerous connections to physiological and cognitive processes, understanding the trajectory of oscillatory development is important for understanding healthy human brain development. This understanding is complicated by recent evidence that assessment of periodic neuronal oscillations is confounded by aperiodic neuronal activity, an inherent feature of electrophysiological recordings. Recent cross-sectional evidence shows that this aperiodic signal progressively shifts from childhood through early adulthood, and from early adulthood into later life. None of these studies, however, have been performed in infants, nor have they been examined longitudinally. Here, we analyzed longitudinal non-invasive EEG data from 22 typically developing infants, ranging between 38 and 203 days old. We show that the progressive flattening of the EEG power spectrum begins in very early development, continuing through the first months of life. These results highlight the importance of separating the periodic and aperiodic neuronal signals, because the aperiodic signal can bias measurement of neuronal oscillations. Given the infrequent, bursting nature of oscillations in infants, we recommend using quantitative time domain approaches that isolate bursts and uncover changes in waveform properties of oscillatory bursts.

Keywords: Aperiodic exponent; EEG; Infants; Neuronal oscillations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Neurons

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.5598814
  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.6994946.v2