Periodic and aperiodic neural activity displays age-dependent changes across early-to-middle childhood

Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2022 Apr:54:101076. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2022.101076. Epub 2022 Jan 22.


The neurodevelopmental period spanning early-to-middle childhood represents a time of significant growth and reorganisation throughout the cortex. Such changes are critical for the emergence and maturation of a range of social and cognitive processes. Here, we utilised both eyes open and eyes closed resting-state electroencephalography (EEG) to examine maturational changes in both oscillatory (i.e., periodic) and non-oscillatory (aperiodic, '1/f-like') activity in a large cohort of participants ranging from 4-to-12 years of age (N = 139, average age=9.41 years, SD=1.95). The EEG signal was parameterised into aperiodic and periodic components, and linear regression models were used to evaluate if chronological age could predict aperiodic exponent and offset, as well as well as peak frequency and power within the alpha and beta ranges. Exponent and offset were found to both decrease with age, while aperiodic-adjusted alpha peak frequency increased with age; however, there was no association between age and peak frequency for the beta band. Age was also unrelated to aperiodic-adjusted spectral power within either the alpha or beta bands, despite both frequency ranges being correlated with the aperiodic signal. Overall, these results highlight the capacity for both periodic and aperiodic features of the EEG to elucidate age-related functional changes within the developing brain.

Keywords: Aperiodic activity; EEG; Neurodevelopment; Neurophysiology; Oscillations; Spectral power.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain*
  • Cerebral Cortex
  • Child
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Head
  • Humans
  • Language