Aperiodic and periodic components of oscillatory brain activity in relation to cognition and symptoms in pediatric ADHD

Ornella Dakwar-Kawar, Tal Mentch-Lifshits, Shachar Hochman, Noam Mairon, Reut Cohen, Pragathi Balasubramani, Jyoti Mishra, Josh Jordan, Roi Cohen Kadosh, Itai Berger, Mor Nahum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder show deficits in processing speed, as well as aberrant neural oscillations, including both periodic (oscillatory) and aperiodic (1/f-like) activity, reflecting the pattern of power across frequencies. Both components were suggested as underlying neural mechanisms of cognitive dysfunctions in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Here, we examined differences in processing speed and resting-state-Electroencephalogram neural oscillations and their associations between 6- and 12-year-old children with (n = 33) and without (n = 33) attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Spectral analyses of the resting-state EEG signal using fast Fourier transform revealed increased power in fronto-central theta and beta oscillations for the attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder group, but no differences in the theta/beta ratio. Using the parameterization method, we found a higher aperiodic exponent, which has been suggested to reflect lower neuronal excitation-inhibition, in the attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder group. While fast Fourier transform-based theta power correlated with clinical symptoms for the attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder group only, the aperiodic exponent was negatively correlated with processing speed across the entire sample. Finally, the aperiodic exponent was correlated with fast Fourier transform-based beta power. These results highlight the different and complementary contribution of periodic and aperiodic components of the neural spectrum as metrics for evaluation of processing speed in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Future studies should further clarify the roles of periodic and aperiodic components in additional cognitive functions and in relation to clinical status.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number6
StatePublished - 4 Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

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© The Author(s) 2024. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected].


  • ADHD
  • aperiodic exponent
  • excitation/inhibition
  • processing speed
  • spectral power analysis


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