Scientific Reports 7:(1) p. 18070 (2017)

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DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-18124-0

Péter P. Ujma1,2, Boris N. Konrad3, Ferenc Gombos2, Péter Simor4,5, Adrián Pótári5, Lisa Genzel3,6, Marcel Pawlowski7, Axel Steiger7, Róbert Bódizs1,2 & Martin Dresler3

1Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Semmelweis University, H-1089, Budapest, Hungary

2National Institute of Clinical Neuroscience, H-1145, Budapest, Hungary

3Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Medical Centre, 6525 EN, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

4Nyírő Gyula Hospital, National Institute of Psychiatry and Addictions, H-1135, Budapest, Hungary

5Department of Cognitive Sciences, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, H-1111, Budapest, Hungary

6Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems, University of Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ, Edinburg, United Kingdom

7Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, 80804, Munich, Germany

Róbert Bódizs and Martin Dresler contributed equally to this work.



The shape of the EEG spectrum in sleep relies on genetic and anatomical factors and forms an individual “EEG fingerprint”. Spectral components of EEG were shown to be connected to mental ability both in sleep and wakefulness. EEG sleep spindle correlates of intelligence, however, exhibit a sexual dimorphism, with a more pronounced association to intelligence in females than males. In a sample of 151 healthy individuals, we investigated how intelligence is related to spectral components of full-night sleep EEG, while controlling for the effects of age. A positive linear association between intelligence and REM anterior beta power was found in females but not males. Transient, spindle-like “REM beta tufts” are described in the EEG of healthy subjects, which may reflect the functioning of a recently described cingular-prefrontal emotion and motor regulation network. REM sleep frontal high delta power was a negative correlate of intelligence. NREM alpha and sigma spectral power correlations with intelligence did not unequivocally remain significant after multiple comparisons correction, but exhibited a similar sexual dimorphism. These results suggest that the neural oscillatory correlates of intelligence in sleep are sexually dimorphic, and they are not restricted to either sleep spindles or NREM sleep.

Keywords: intelligence, non-REM sleep, REM sleep, sleep