Publication: Brain oscillatory complexity across the life span
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Objective Considering the increasing use of complexity estimates in neuropsychiatric populations, a normative study is critical to define the ‘normal’ behaviour of brain oscillatory complexity across the life span. Method This study examines changes in resting-state magnetoencephalogram (MEG) complexity – quantified with the Lempel–Ziv complexity (LZC) algorithm – due to age and gender in a large sample of 222 (100 males/122 females) healthy participants with ages ranging from 7 to 84 years. Results A significant quadratic (curvilinear) relationship (p < 0.05) between age and complexity was found, with LZC maxima being reached by the sixth decade of life. Once that peak was crossed, complexity values slowly decreased until late senescence. Females exhibited higher LZC values than males, with significant differences in the anterior, central and posterior regions (p < 0.05). Conclusions These results suggest that the evolution of brain oscillatory complexity across the life span might be considered a new illustration of a ‘normal’ physiological rhythm. Significance Previous and forthcoming clinical studies using complexity estimates might be interpreted from a more complete and dynamical perspective. Pathologies not only cause an ‘abnormal’ increase or decrease of complexity values but they actually ‘break’ the ‘normal’ pattern of oscillatory complexity evolution as a function of age.