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Effects of early intervention on EEG power and coherence in previously institutionalized children in Romania

  • Peter J. Marshall (a1), Bethany C. Reeb (a2), Nathan A. Fox (a2), Charles A. Nelson (a3) and Charles H. Zeanah (a4)...

Two groups of Romanian children were compared on spectral power and coherence in the electroencephalogram (EEG) in early childhood. One group consisted of previously institutionalized children who had been randomly assigned to a foster care intervention at a mean age of 23 months. The second group had been randomized to remain in institutional care. Because of a policy of noninterference, a number of these children also experienced placement into alternative family care environments. There were minimal group differences between the foster care and institutionalized groups in EEG power and coherence across all measured frequency bands at 42 months of age. However, age at foster care placement within the foster care group was correlated with certain measures of EEG power and coherence. Earlier age at foster care placement was associated with increased alpha power and decreased short-distance EEG coherence. Further analyses separating age at placement from duration of intervention suggest that this effect may be more robust for EEG coherence than EEG band power. Supplementary analyses examined whether the EEG measures mediated changes in intellectual abilities within the foster care children, but no clear evidence of mediation was observed.

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Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Peter J. Marshall, Department of Psychology, Temple University, 701 North 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122; E-mail:
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Development and Psychopathology
  • ISSN: 0954-5794
  • EISSN: 1469-2198
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