Recently, increased interest was focused on the EEG frequency responses in the theta (4-7 Hz) range because of their association with stimulus information processing. However, it is not known whether the event-related theta response depends on the development of the spontaneous theta activity and how it varies with age in children. In the present study, a single-sweep analysis was applied to assess the developmental changes in the event-related EEG theta activity. Auditory passive, oddball target, and standard event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded at Fz, Cz, and Pz from 50 children aged 6-11 years and 10 young adults. Theta responses were analyzed in two time windows of the post-stimulus epochs for three single-sweep parameters: amplitude, phase-locking with stimulus, and enhancement relative to prestimulus activity. For all three types of stimuli adults had theta responses with lower amplitude, higher enhancement, and stronger phase-locking than those of children. Unlike adults, no reliable differences between the early and late theta response were found for children. Significant developmental changes were observed for theta response amplitude that decreased and phase-locking of early theta responses that increased with advancing age. These findings indicate that the theta component of the auditory ERP differs remarkably between children and adults and undergoes developmental alterations, possibly reflecting specific differences in stimulus information processing
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