Topography of slow sigma power during sleep is associated with processing speed in preschool children

Margaret Doucette, Salome Kurth, Nicolas Chevalier, Yuko Munakata, Monique LeBourgeois

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cognitive development is influenced by maturational changes in processing speed, a construct reflecting the rapidity of executing cognitive operations. Although cognitive ability and processing speed are linked to spindles and sigma power in the sleep electroencephalogram (EEG), little is known about such associations in early childhood, a time of major neuronal refinement. We calculated EEG power for slow (10–13 Hz) and fast (13.25–17 Hz) sigma power from all-night high-density electroencephalography (EEG) in a cross-sectional sample of healthy preschool children (n = 10, 4.3 ± 1.0 years). Processing speed was assessed as simple reaction time. On average, reaction time was 1409 ± 251 ms; slow sigma power was 4.0 ± 1.5 μV2; and fast sigma power was 0.9 ± 0.2 μV2. Both slow and fast sigma power predominated over central areas. Only slow sigma power was correlated with processing speed in a large parietal electrode cluster (p < 0.05, r ranging from −0.6 to −0.8), such that greater power predicted faster reaction time. Our findings indicate regional correlates between sigma power and processing speed that are specific to early childhood and provide novel insights into the neurobiological features of the EEG that may underlie developing cognitive abilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-508
Number of pages15
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2015


  • Early childhood education and care
  • cognition
  • processing speed
  • EEG
  • high density
  • sigma power
  • sleep spindles
  • preschool children


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