48 Citations (Scopus)


Slow oscillations, a defining characteristic of the nonrapid eye movement sleep electroencephalogram (EEG), proliferate across the scalp in highly reproducible patterns. In adults, the propagation of slow oscillations is a recognized fingerprint of brain connectivity and excitability. In this study, we (1) describe for the first time maturational features of sleep slow oscillation propagation in children (n = 23; 2-13 years) using high-density (hd) EEG and (2) examine associations between sleep slow oscillatory propagation characteristics (ie, distance, traveling speed, cortical involvement) and white matter myelin microstructure as measured with multicomponent Driven Equilibrium Single Pulse Observation of T1 and T2-magnetic resonance imaging (mcDESPOT-MRI). Results showed that with increasing age, slow oscillations propagated across longer distances (average growth of 0.2 cm per year; R(21) = 0.50, p < .05), while traveling speed and cortical involvement (ie, slow oscillation expanse) remained unchanged across childhood. Cortical involvement (R(20) = 0.44) and slow oscillation speed (R(20) = -0.47; both p < .05, corrected for age) were associated with myelin content in the superior longitudinal fascicle, the largest anterior-posterior, intrahemispheric white matter connectivity tract. Furthermore, slow oscillation distance was moderately associated with whole-brain (R(21) = 0.46, p < .05) and interhemispheric myelin content, the latter represented by callosal myelin water fraction (R(21) = 0.54, p < .01, uncorrected). Thus, we demonstrate age-related changes in slow oscillation propagation distance, as well as regional associations between brain activity during sleep and the anatomical connectivity of white matter microstructure. Our findings make an important contribution to knowledge of the brain connectome using a noninvasive and novel analytic approach. These data also have implications for understanding the emergence of neurodevelopmental disorders and the role of sleep in brain maturation trajectories.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number9
Early online date11 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • Journal Article


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