Age and autonomic control, but not cerebral oxygenation, are significant determinants of EEG spectral power in children

Lisa M. Walter, Knarik Tamanyan, Aidan J. Weichard, Sarah N. Biggs, Margot J. Davey, Gillian M. Nixon, Rosemary S. C. Horne

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Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) in children has significant effects on daytime functioning and cardiovascular control; attributed to sleep fragmentation and repetitive hypoxia. Associations between electroencephalograph (EEG) spectral power, autonomic cardiovascular control and cerebral oxygenation have been identified in adults with SDB. To date, there have been no studies in children. We aimed to assess associations between EEG spectral power and heart rate variability as a measure of autonomic control, with cerebral oxygenation in children with SDB. Methods: One hundred sixteen children (3-12 years) with SDB and 42 controls underwent overnight polysomnography including measurement of cerebral oxygenation. Power spectral analysis of the EEG derived from C4-M1 and F4-M1, quantified delta, theta, alpha, and beta waveforms during sleep. Multiple regression tested whether age, SDB severity, heart rate (HR), HR variability (HRV), and cerebral oxygenation were determinants of EEG spectral power. Results: There were no differences in EEG spectral power derived from either central or frontal regions for any frequency between children with different severities of SDB so these were combined. Age, HR, and HRV low frequency power were significant determinants of EEG spectral power depending on brain region and sleep stage. Conclusion: The significant findings of this study were that age and autonomic control, rather than cerebral oxygenation and SDB severity, were predictive of EEG spectral power in children. Further research is needed to elucidate how the physiology that underlies the relationship between autonomic control and EEG impacts on the cardiovascular sequelae in children with SDB.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberzsz118
Number of pages11
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2019


  • autonomic control
  • cerebral oxygenation
  • EEG spectral power
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • pediatric
  • sleep disordered breathing

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