Associations between the resting EEG aperiodic slope and broad domains of cognitive ability

Matthew J. Euler, Julia V. Vehar, Jasmin E. Guevara, Allie R. Geiger, Pascal R. Deboeck, Keith R. Lohse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent studies suggest that the EEG aperiodic exponent (often represented as a slope in log–log space) is sensitive to individual differences in momentary cognitive skills such as selective attention and information processing speed. However, findings are mixed, and most of the studies have focused on just a narrow range of cognitive domains. This study used an archival dataset to help clarify associations between resting aperiodic features and broad domains of cognitive ability, which vary in their demands on momentary processing. Undergraduates (N = 166) of age 18–52 years completed a resting EEG session as well as a standardized, individually administered assessment of cognitive ability that included measures of processing speed, working memory, and higher-order visuospatial and verbal skills. A subsample (n = 110) also completed a computerized reaction time task with three difficulty levels. Data reduction analyses revealed strong correlations between the aperiodic offset and slope across electrodes, and a single component accounted for ~60% of variance in slopes across the scalp, in both eyes-closed and eyes-open conditions. Structural equation models did not support relations between the slope and specific domains tapping momentary processes. However, secondary analyses indicated that the eyes-open slope was related to higher overall performance, as represented by a single general ability factor. A latent reaction time variable was significantly inversely related to both eyes-closed and eyes-open resting exponents, such that faster reaction times were associated with steeper slopes. These findings support and help clarify the relation of the resting EEG exponent to individual differences in cognitive skills.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14543
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • intelligence
  • processing speed
  • psychometric g
  • reaction time
  • reasoning
  • spectral slope


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