Early development of electrophysiological activity: Contribution of periodic and aperiodic components of the EEG signal.

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    • Abstract:
      Brain function rapidly changes in the first 2 years of life. In the last decades, resting‐state EEG has been widely used to explore those changes. Previous studies have focused on the relative power of the signal in established frequency bands (i.e., theta, alpha, and beta). However, EEG power is a mixture of a 1/f‐like background power (aperiodic) in combination with narrow peaks that appear over that curve (periodic activity, e.g., alpha peak). Therefore, it is possible that relative power captures both, aperiodic and periodic brain activity, contributing to changes in electrophysiological activity observed in infancy. For this reason, we explored the early developmental trajectory of the relative power in theta, alpha, and beta frequency bands from infancy to toddlerhood and compared it with changes in periodic activity in a longitudinal study with three waves at age 6, 9, and 16 to 18 months. Finally, we tested the contribution of periodic activity and aperiodic components of the EEG to age changes in relative power. We found that relative power and periodic activity trajectories differed in this period in all the frequency bands but alpha. Furthermore, aperiodic EEG activity flattened between 6 and 18 months. More importantly, only alpha relative power was exclusively related to periodic activity, whereas aperiodic components of the signal significantly contributed to the relative power of activity in theta and beta bands. Thus, relative power in these frequencies is influenced by developmental changes of the aperiodic activity, which should be considered for future studies. Power of oscillatory brain activity recorded at rest (rs‐EEG) provides reliable indicators of neurocognitive development. However, it conflates both aperiodic and oscillatory brain activity. We investigated age‐related changes in rs‐EEG activity in infancy and examined the contribution of aperiodic and oscillatory components of the signal to classic power measurements. We show that only alpha relative power was exclusively related to oscillatory activity, whereas aperiodic components contributed to the relative power in theta and beta bands. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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