Electroencephalographic Correlates of Brain Adaptations to Medical School Academic Challenges-A Pilot Study CC05-CC08
Dr. Richard Mark Millis,
Professor, Department of Medical Physiology, American University of Antigua College of Medicine, Antigua-30100, Antigua and Barbuda.
Introduction: A relatively specific quantitative Electroencephalogram (qEEG) signature is shown to be indicative of working memory deficits in low performing high school students. Previous studies have shown that Theta/Beta (T/B) ratio measured by qEEG is an indicator of poor Attention Control (AC) and that high T/B ratio may be diagnostic of attention deficit disorders.
Aim: This study tests the hypothesis that high T/B ratio measured by qEEG may be associated with low academic performance in a medical school curriculum.
Materials and Methods: Nine healthy male volunteers were subjected to 5-10 minutes of qEEG measurements at 19 electrode sites, under Eyes-Open (EO) and Eyes-Closed (EC) conditions. The qEEG measurements were performed for three days before each of the first two block examinations, covering standard first semester integrated basic science courses. MeanÂ±Standard Deviations (SD) of the amplitudes, expressed in ÂµV, and of the mode frequency in each of four standard bandwidths (delta, theta, alpha, beta), expressed in hertz, were measured. T/B ratio was then computed.
Results: Mean theta and beta amplitudes increased significantly and T/B ratio decreased significantly for both the EO and EC conditions. Dominant (mode) theta frequency also increased. Overall inter and intra-hemispheric theta and beta band coherences increased for both the EO and EC conditions between the Block 1 and Block 2 exams; theta intra-hemispheric coherence was significant only for the EC condition. Correlations between Human Structure and Function (HSF) Block 2 exam scores and overall inter and intra-hemispheric coherences were significant for the beta bandwidth under the EC condition only.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that high T/B ratio, a qEEG indicator of AC, may be associated with low academic performance. Future studies including a larger number of subjects should be done to determine whether these findings are gender-specific and whether lowering the T/B ratio is a predictor of medical school performance and other academic challenges.