Age-related differences in brain electrical activity of healthy subjects

Ann Neurol. 1984 Oct;16(4):430-8. doi: 10.1002/ana.410160403.


A combined neurophysiological (electroencephalographic [EEG] and sensory evoked potential) and neuropsychological investigation was performed on 63 healthy men ranging in age from 30 to 80 years. Although alpha frequency diminished slightly with age, neither amplitude nor frequency demonstrated a high age correlation. Alpha blocking, in contrast, did correlate with age, in the direction of reduced alpha reactivity. EEG background activity underwent significant age-correlated change, consisting of reductions in slow activity and augmentation of fast activity, i.e., EEG desynchronization. Previously reported age-related EEG slowing may be related to the presence of disease in the populations studied. Topographic analysis revealed that the greatest change occurred in the temporal lobes. More change was noted either early or late in the age span, suggesting that aging is a nonlinear process. More features were derived from the right hemisphere than from the left, suggesting that the aging process is not completely symmetrical.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Alpha Rhythm
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Reference Values
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology