Electrical Milestones in Mammalian Brain Development

  • G. Pampiglione
Part of the Ettore Majorana International Science Series book series (EMISS, volume 7)


In developmental studies of mammals, and particularly in man, it has become fashionable to represent the evolution of physical measurements as auniform continuum, shaped as a smooth curve or “best line”. In biological work various statistical methods of analysis have led many investigators to average individual variations and bury them between the lines of standard deviations. Emphasis on coincidence of phenomena rather than on their scatter may explain how a series of maturational steps in young mammals may be made to disappear with resulting loss of information.

In the present study of the normal development of brain function (and especially of EEG maturation in mammals) particular species have been selected because of their dissimilarity, not only in the duration of pregnancy but also in the delay period from birth to near maturity of brain function. Postnatal development of the EEG is relatively rapid in the pig and lamb, slower in the dog and much slower in the monkey and man. 64 pigs (with 280 EEGs from birth to the sixth month), 8 lambs (with 32 EEGs from 6 days to 4 months), 181 dogs (2000 EEGs from a few hours after birth until the age of one year) and 146 children (666 EEGs from 3 months to 5 years of age) were personally studied, while data on monkeys were reviewed from the literature.27,28,29

During maturation in all these mammals, the EEG features do not evolve according to a uniformly continuous process as suggested in the literature, but proceed in somewhat irregular steps. There are long periods (weeks or months) during which the EEG changes are negligible, and much shorter periods (days) during which there is a fairly rapid evolution towards the next plateau. Therefore normal EEG milestones for given species and age are predictable provided that nutritional, endocrine and ethnic factors are taken into consideration. Such information would be missed if the “best line” approach is used.


Rhythmic Activity Posterior Half Alpha Rhythm Rhythmic Component Young Lamb 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Pampiglione
    • 1
  1. 1.The Hospital for Sick ChildrenLondon, WC1UK

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