Scientific Reports | (2022) 12:7023

Ferenc Gombos1,2,8, Róbert Bódizs3,4,8, Adrián Pótári2, Gábor Bocskai1,5, Andrea Berencsi2,6, Hanna Szakács1,5 & Ilona Kovács1,2,7

1 Laboratory for Psychological Research, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest, Hungary

2 Adolescent Development Research Group, Hungarian Academy of Sciences – Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest, Hungary

3 Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary

4 National Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, Budapest, Hungary

5 Doctoral School of Mental Health Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary

6 Institute for the Methodology of Special Needs Education and Rehabilitation, Bárczi Gusztáv Faculty of Special Needs Education, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary

7 Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, 1117, Budapest, Hungary

8 These authors contributed equally: Ferenc Gombos and Róbert Bódizs




Current theories of human neural development emphasize the posterior-to-anterior pattern of brain maturation. However, this scenario leaves out significant brain areas not directly involved with sensory input and behavioral control. Suggesting the relevance of cortical activity unrelated to sensory stimulation, such as sleep, we investigated adolescent transformations in the topography of sleep spindles. Sleep spindles are known to be involved in neural plasticity and in adults have a bimodal topography: slow spindles are frontally dominant, while fast spindles have a parietal/precuneal origin. The late functional segregation of the precuneus from the frontoparietal network during adolescence suggests that spindle topography might approach the adult state relatively late in development, and it may not be a result of the posterior-to-anterior maturational pattern. We analyzed the topographical distribution of spindle parameters in HD-EEG polysomnographic sleep recordings of adolescents and found that slow spindle duration maxima traveled from central to anterior brain regions, while fast spindle density, amplitude and frequency peaks traveled from central to more posterior brain regions. These results provide evidence for the gradual posteriorization of the anatomical localization of fast sleep spindles during adolescence and indicate the existence of an anterior-to-posterior pattern of human brain maturation.