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Developmental Changes in Sleep Oscillations during Early Childhood

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Olbrich E., Rusterholz Thomas, LeBourgeois M., Achermann Peter,
Project Sleep onset and other state transitions: insights from quantitative EEG analysis
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Neural Plasticity
Volume (Issue) 2017
Page(s) 6160959
Title of proceedings Neural Plasticity
DOI 10.1155/2017/6160959

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Although quantitative analysis of the sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) has uncovered important aspects of brain activity during sleep in adolescents and adults, similar findings from preschool-age children remain scarce. This study utilized our time-frequency method to examine sleep oscillations as characteristic features of human sleep EEG. Data were collected from a longitudinal sample of young children (n = 8; 3 males) at ages 2, 3, and 5 years. Following sleep stage scoring, we detected and characterized oscillatory events across age and examined how their features corresponded to spectral changes in the sleep EEG. Results indicated a developmental decrease in the incidence of delta and theta oscillations. Spindle oscillations, however, were almost absent at 2 years but pronounced at 5 years. All oscillatory event changes were stronger during light sleep than slow-wave sleep. Large interindividual differences in sleep oscillations and their characteristics (e.g., “ultrafast” spindle-like oscillations, theta oscillation incidence/frequency) also existed. Changes in delta and spindle oscillations across early childhood may indicate early maturation of the thalamocortical system. Our analytic approach holds promise for revealing novel types of sleep oscillatory events that are specific to periods of rapid normal development across the lifespan and during other times of aberrant changes in neurobehavioral function.