Get access

Peak individual alpha frequency qualifies as a stable neurophysiological trait marker in healthy younger and older adults

Authors

  • Thomas H. Grandy,

    1. Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Germany
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Markus Werkle-Bergner,

    Corresponding author
    • Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Germany
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Christian Chicherio,

    1. Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Germany
    2. Neuropsychology Unit, Neurology Clinic, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Geneva University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Florian Schmiedek,

    1. Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Germany
    2. German Institute for International Educational Research (DIPF), Frankfurt am Main, Germany
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Martin Lövdén,

    1. Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Germany
    2. Aging Research Center, Karolinska Institutet & Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ulman Lindenberger

    1. Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Germany
    Search for more papers by this author

  • This work was supported by the Max Planck Society (including a grant from the Innovation Fund: M.FE.A.BILD0005), the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award (to ML) administered by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and donated by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), the German Research Foundation (DFG; KFG 163), and the BMBF (CAI). UL was financially supported by the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Award of the DFG. We thank Colin Bauer, Annette Brose, and all research assistants involved in data collection.

Address correspondence to: Markus Werkle-Bergner, Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Lentzeallee 94, 14195 Berlin, Germany. E-mail: werkle@mpib-berlin.mpg.de

Abstract

The individual alpha frequency (IAF) of the human EEG reflects systemic properties of the brain, is highly heritable, and relates to cognitive functioning. Not much is known about the modifiability of IAF by cognitive interventions. We report analyses of resting EEG from a large-scale training study in which healthy younger (20–31 years, N = 30) and older (65–80 years, N = 28) adults practiced 12 cognitive tasks for ∼100 1-h sessions. EEG was recorded before and after the cognitive training intervention. In both age groups, IAF (and, in a control analysis, alpha amplitude) did not change, despite large gains in cognitive performance. As within-session reliability and test-retest stability were high for both age groups, imprecise measurements cannot account for the findings. In sum, IAF is highly stable in healthy adults up to 80 years, not easily modifiable by cognitive interventions alone, and thus qualifies as a stable neurophysiological trait marker.

Ancillary