Sex, puberty, and the timing of sleep EEG measured adolescent brain maturation

Ian G. Campbell, Kevin J. Grimm, Evan De Bie, Irwin Feinberg

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100 Scopus citations


The steep adolescent decline in the slow wave (delta, 1-4 Hz) electroencephalogram (EEG) of nonrapid eye movement (NREM) sleep is a dramatic maturational change in brain electrophysiology thought to be driven by cortical synaptic pruning. A perennial question is whether this change in brain electrophysiology is related to sexual maturation. Applying Gompertz growthmodels to longitudinal data spanning ages 9-18 y, we found that the timing of the delta decline was significantly (P < 0.0001) linked to timing of pubertal maturation. This timing relation remained significant when sex differences in the timing of the delta decline were statistically controlled. Sex differences and the relation to the timing of puberty jointly explained 67% of the between-subject variance in the timing of the delta decline. These data provide a demonstration of a temporal relation between puberty and an electrophysiological marker of adolescent brain development. They can guide research into whether the neuroendocrine events of puberty are mechanistically linked to cortical maturation or whether, instead, the two maturational processes are parallel but independent programs of human ontogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5740-5743
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 10 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Fast fourier transform
  • Tanner stage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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