The relation between sigma power and internalizing problems across development

Kathrin Bothe, Michael A Hahn, Ines Wilhelm, Kerstin Hoedlmoser*

*Korrespondierende/r Autor/-in für diese Arbeit


Internalizing problems are characterized by deficits in emotion processing and regulation. They are among the most common problems in children and adolescents and mark an increased risk for depressive and anxiety disorders in later life. First evidence suggests that sleep alterations are related to the development and/or persistence of mood and anxiety disorders in children, adolescents, and adults. Most recently, data from clinical samples showed that brain activity in the sigma frequency band (9–16 Hz, i.e. sleep spindle frequency) is associated with internalizing problems in children and adolescents. However, less is known about the association between sigma power and internalizing problems in healthy participants within this age group. Here, we re-analyzed longitudinal data (25 healthy subjects (18 females) at two time points (T1: childhood mean age: 9.52 ± 0.77; T2: adolescence mean age: 16.08 ± 0.91) by correlating sigma power with measures for internalizing problems. Moreover, we calculated sigma power ratios (frontal/central, frontal/parietal, frontal/occipital) to examine whether these measures would reflect developmental changes more accurately. We found that higher values of internalizing problems at T1 were related to a lower decrease in sigma power from T1 to T2 at frontal and central derivations. Furthermore, higher values of internalizing problems at T1 as well as at T2 were related to higher sigma power ratios at T2. We suggest that sigma power may reflect maturational processes (e.g. network efficiency, integrity) related to the development of internalizing problems. In particular, a stronger decrease in frontal sigma power from childhood to adolescence may indicate a healthier development. Thus, our results emphasize the role of sigma power as a useful marker for internalizing problems during adolescence.

ZeitschriftJournal of Psychiatric Research
Seiten (von - bis)302-310
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 03.2021


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