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Research Review: Use of EEG biomarkers in child psychiatry research – current state and future directions



Electroencephalography (EEG) and related measures have a long and productive history in child psychopathology research and are currently experiencing a renaissance in interest, particularly for use as putative biomarkers.

Method and scope

First, the recent history leading to the use of EEG measures as endophenotypes and biomarkers for disease and treatment response are reviewed. Two key controversies within the area of noninvasive human electrophysiology research are discussed, and problems that currently either function as barriers or provide gateways to progress. First, the differences between the main types of EEG measurements (event-related potentials, quantitative EEG, and time-frequency measures) and how they can contribute collectively to better understanding of cortical dynamics underlying cognition and behavior are highlighted. Second, we focus on the ongoing shift in analytic focus to specific cortical sources and source networks whose dynamics are relevant to the clinical and experimental focus of the study, and the effective increase in source signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) that may be obtained in the process.


Understanding of these issues informs any discussion of current trends in EEG research. We highlight possible ways to evolve our understanding of brain dynamics beyond the apparent contradictions in understanding and modeling EEG activity highlighted by these controversies. Finally, we summarize some promising future directions of EEG biomarker research in child psychopathology.

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