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Karger Publishers, Developmental Neuroscience, 2(33), p. 130-143, 2011

DOI: 10.1159/000329095



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Development of Mu Rhythm in Infants and Preschool Children

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This paper is available in a repository.

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Mu rhythm is an idling rhythm that originates in the sensorimotor cortex during rest. The frequency of mu rhythm, which is well established in adults, is 8–12 Hz, whereas the limited results available from children suggest a frequency as low as 5.4 Hz at 6 months of age, which gradually increases to the adult value. Understanding the normal development of mu rhythm has important theoretical and clinical implications since we still know very little about this signal in infants and how it develops with age. We measured mu rhythm over the left hemisphere using a pediatric magnetoencephalography (MEG) system in 25 infants (11–47 weeks), 18 preschool children (2–5 years) and 6 adults (20–39 years) for two 5-min sessions during two intermixed conditions: a rest condition in which the hands were at rest, and a prehension condition in which the subject squeezed a pipette with his/her right hand. In all participants, mu rhythm was present over the frontoparietal area during the rest condition, but was clearly suppressed during the prehension condition. Mu rhythm peak frequency, determined from the amplitude spectra, increased rapidly as a function of age from 2.75 Hz at 11 weeks to 8.25 Hz at 47 weeks (r<sup>2</sup> = 0.83). It increased very slowly during the preschool period (3.1 ± 0.9 years; 8.5 ± 0.54 Hz). The frequency in these children was, however, lower than in adults (10.3 ± 1.2 Hz). Our results show a rapid maturation in spontaneous mu rhythm during the first year of life.