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Maturational Patterns of Sigma Frequency Power Across Childhood and Adolescence: A Longitudinal Study.


Study objectives

To further evaluate adolescent brain maturation by determining the longitudinal trajectories of nonrapid eye movement (NREM) sigma (11-15 Hz) power across childhood-adolescence.


The maturational trend for sigma (11-15 Hz) power was evaluated in an accelerated longitudinal study of three overlapping age cohorts (n = 92) covering ages 6 to 18 y. Semiannually, sleep electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded from participants sleeping at home in their normal sleep environment while keeping their current school night schedules.


Sigma frequencies became faster with age. The frequency of the 11-15 Hz spectral peak increased linearly. Sigma frequency power (SFP) declined with age, but its trajectory was complex (cubic). Power in a group of low sigma subfrequencies declined with age. Power in a group of high sigma frequencies increased with age. Power in subfrequencies within 11-15 Hz also showed different trends across the night, with lower frequencies increasing across NREM periods and higher frequencies decreasing across NREM periods. The upper and lower boundaries for the sigma frequencies that changed across NREMPs shifted upward with age.


We hypothesize that these maturational brain changes result from synaptic elimination which decreases sleep depth and streamlines circuits. SFP displays a maturational trajectory different from both delta and theta power. Theories on the function of sigma must be reconciled with its maturational trajectory. These findings further demonstrate the value of sleep EEG for studying noninvasively the complex developmental brain changes of adolescence.

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