Quantitative EEG Evidence of Increased Alpha Peak Frequency in Children with Precocious Reading Ability


  • Shannon M. Suldo
  • Lynn A. Olson
  • James R. Evans




Background. EEG research with specific clinical populations (e.g., Alzheimer’s and mentally disabled) has confirmed that reduced alpha peak frequency often is associated with impaired cognitive functioning. However, research with high-functioning populations does not exist, and increased peak frequency in alpha has only been hypothesized to relate to advanced brain maturation. Methods. This study compared peak frequency in the alpha band (8.0 to 12.0 Hz) of children with precocious reading ability to that of control groups. The experimental group consisted of 15 early readers (ER). One comparison sample included 15 age-level matched (ALM) children, similar to the ER group in terms of cognitive functioning and age, but reading at grade level. A second comparison group, composed of 15 reading-level matched (RLM) children, had intelligence and reading level scores equivalent to the ER group, but was 2.5 years older. Using Lexicor NeuroSearch-24 equipment and v151 software, quantitative EEG (QEEG) data on each participant were obtained from 19 scalp electrode sites. Results. As hypothesized, peak frequency in alpha differentiated the groups. Specifically, the ER group had significantly higher alpha peak frequency than the ALM group at 16 of the 19 electrode sites examined. The differences were consistent across all brain regions, as the mean alpha peak frequency at each site was between 9.0 and 9.3 Hz for members of the ER group and between 8.6 and 8.8 Hz for members of the ALM group. Peak frequency in alpha did not differ significantly between the ER and RLM sample. Conclusions. Peak frequency in the alpha band is associated with precocious reading ability, and may be an indicator of advanced brain maturation.