Relative right versus left frontal EEG in neonates

Tiffany M Field, Miguel A Diego, Maria Hernandez-Reif, Saul Schanberg, Cynthia Kuhn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations


Although infants have been noted to have greater relative right or left frontal EEG as early as the neonatal period, other ways in which these newborns differ have not been reported. In this study, 48 newborns were divided on the basis of greater relative right versus greater relative left frontal EEG to determine whether these groups differed in other ways at the neonatal period including behavior, physiology, and biochemistry. We also were interested in whether these EEG patterns were related to any prenatal maternal variables including mood states (depression, anxiety, anger) and biochemistry as well as fetal activity. The greater relative right frontal EEG newborns had mothers with lower prenatal and postnatal serotonin and higher postnatal cortisol levels. The mothers of the greater relative right frontal EEG newborns also had greater relative right frontal EEG activation and lower vagal tone. The greater relative right frontal EEG newborns themselves had elevated cortisol levels, showed a greater number of state changes during sleep/ wake behavior observations, and performed less optimally on the Brazelton Neonatal Behavior Assessment (T. B. Brazelton, 1973) including the habituation, motor, range of state, excitability, and depressive symptoms scales. These data suggest that greater relative right frontal EEG newborns may be at greater risk for developmental problems than those with greater relative left frontal EEG activation. In addition, a discriminant function analysis correctly classified 67% of the newborns' EEGs by prenatal maternal variables, suggesting that these might be used to target pregnant women for prenatal intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-155
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 31 2002



  • Catecholamines
  • Cortisol
  • EEG
  • Neonate
  • Prenatal
  • Vagal tone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Embryology
  • Psychology(all)

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