Age increases brain complexity

Electroencephalogr Clin Neurophysiol. 1996 Jul;99(1):63-8. doi: 10.1016/0921-884x(96)95573-3.


This study investigated age-related changes in the human brain function using both traditional EEG analysis (power spectra) and the correlational dimension, a measure reflecting the complexity of EEG dynamics and, probably, the complexity of neurophysiological processes generating the EEG. Assuming that the accumulation of individual experience is determined by the formation of functionally related groups of neurons showing a repetitive synchronous activation (cell assemblies), an increase in the number of such independently oscillating cortical cell assemblies can be expected, despite a decline of some metabolic and memory functions with normal ageing. Thus, the "wisdom of old age' may find its neurophysiological basis in greater complexity of brain dynamics compared to young ages. The experimental hypothesis was that EEG dimension steadily increases with age. In order to test this hypothesis the resting EEGs of 5 age groups from 7 to 60 were analysed. The results confirm the hypothesis: after a jump in the brain dynamics complexity during puberty a linear increase with age is observed. During maturation (7-25 years), the maximum gain in complexity occurs over the frontal associative cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Child
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged