Higher sleep spindle activity generally relates to better cognitive performance in adults, while studies in children often show the opposite. As children become young adults, there is rapid brain maturation and development of higher-order cognitive functions, and therefore investigations within this age group may elucidate the relationship between spindles and cognition in this developmental period. Twelve studies published between 2009 and 2016 were identified. Meta-analyses revealed a positive relationship between spindles and cognition overall (r = 0.27), however effects varied depending on cognitive domain. Moderate positive relationships were seen for fluid IQ (r = 0.44), working memory/executive function (r = 0.40) and speed/accuracy (r = 0.33), while full IQ/verbal IQ was not significantly associated (r = −0.05). Meta-regressions indicated cognitive domain and spindle characteristic had a small influence over effect sizes, while age and gender did not have a significant influence. The relationship between spindles and cognition in adolescents is likely influenced by individual neural makeup and brain maturation.
- Cognitive performance
- Sleep spindles