Sleep EEG functional connectivity varies with age and sex, but not general intelligence.


Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary; National Institute of Clinical Neuroscience, Juhász Pál Epilepsy Centrum, Budapest, Hungary. Electronic address: [Email]


Variations in the anatomical and functional connectivity between brain areas underlie both healthy and pathological variation in psychological measures. Largely independent from external stimuli, the sleep EEG is particularly well suited to measure individual variations in functional brain connectivity. In this study of 172 healthy individuals (17-69 years old), we show that functional connectivity between distant brain areas-reflected by the weighted phase lag index of the sleep EEG-is strongly affected by the age and sex of participants. Both NREM and REM connectivity in the theta and beta range increased with age, whereas a decrease was seen in the sigma range. Connectivity was substantially greater in females than in males in the high sigma frequency range, but an opposite pattern was seen in the alpha/low sigma and beta range. General intelligence was not significantly associated with connectivity in either sex. Our results confirm strong age effects on sleep spindle-frequency activity, which loses synchrony as a function of aging. Furthermore, we found support for a vigilance state-independent age-related increase in high beta power, previously demonstrated in waking EEG studies. The results highlight that future studies establishing sleep EEG connectivity measures as psychological or psychiatric biomarkers should take into account that sleep EEG synchronization is strongly affected by age and sex, and clinical thresholds must be adjusted accordingly.


Aging,General intelligence,Sex differences,Sleep EEG,Synchronization,

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