Comparison of resting-state EEG between adults with Down syndrome and typically developing controls

Sarah Hamburg, Daniel Bush, André Strydom, Carla Startin

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Background: Down syndrome (DS) is the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability (ID) worldwide. Understanding electrophysiological characteristics associated with DS provides potential mechanistic insights into ID, helping inform biomarkers and targets for intervention. Currently, electrophysiological characteristics associated with DS remain unclear due to methodological differences between studies and inadequate controls for cognitive decline as a potential cofounder. Methods: Eyes-closed resting-state EEG measures (specifically delta, theta, alpha, and beta absolute and relative powers, and alpha peak amplitude, frequency and frequency variance) in occipital and frontal regions were compared between adults with DS (with no diagnosis of dementia or evidence of cognitive decline) and typically developing (TD) matched controls (n = 25 per group). Results: We report an overall 'slower' EEG spectrum, characterised by higher delta and theta power, and lower alpha and beta power, for both regions in people with DS. Alpha activity in particular showed strong group differences, including lower power, lower peak amplitude and greater peak frequency variance in people with DS. Conclusions: Such EEG 'slowing' has previously been associated with cognitive decline in both DS and TD populations. These findings indicate the potential existence of a universal EEG signature of cognitive impairment, regardless of origin (neurodevelopmental or neurodegenerative), warranting further exploration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2021


  • Alpha Peak
  • Down syndrome
  • EEG
  • Resting state
  • Trisomy 21

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