Adolescent development of cortical oscillations: Power, phase, and support of cognitive maturation

by Scott Marek, Brenden Tervo-Clemmens, Natalie Klein, William Foran, Avniel Singh Ghuman, Beatriz Luna

During adolescence, the integration of specialized functional brain networks related to cognitive control continues to increase. Slow frequency oscillations (4–10 Hz) have been shown to support cognitive control processes, especially within prefrontal regions. However, it is unclear how neural oscillations contribute to functional brain network development and improvements in cognitive control during adolescence. To bridge this gap, we employed magnetoencephalography (MEG) to explore changes in oscillatory power and phase coupling across cortical networks in a sample of 68 adolescents and young adults. We found a redistribution of power from lower to higher frequencies throughout adolescence, such that delta band (1–3 Hz) power decreased, whereas beta band power (14–16 and 22–26 Hz) increased. Delta band power decreased with age most strongly in association networks within the frontal lobe and operculum. Conversely, beta band power increased throughout development, most strongly in processing networks and the posterior cingulate cortex, a hub of the default mode (DM) network. In terms of phase, theta band (5–9 Hz) phase-locking robustly decreased with development, following an anterior-to-posterior gradient, with the greatest decoupling occurring between association networks. Additionally, decreased slow frequency phase-locking between frontolimbic regions was related to decreased impulsivity with age. Thus, greater decoupling of slow frequency oscillations may afford functional networks greater flexibility during the resting state to instantiate control when required.

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