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Changes in event-related brain responses and habituation during child development – A systematic literature review

Julia Hartkopf ● Julia Moser ● Franziska Schleger ● 
Hubert Preissl and Jana Keune


Objective: This systematic review highlights the influence of developmental changes of the central nervous system on habituation assessment during child development. Therefore, studies on age dependant changes in event-related brain responses as well as studies on behavioural and neurophysiological habituation during child development are compiled and discussed.

Methods: Two PubMed searches with terms “(development evoked brain response (fetus OR neonate OR children) (electroencephalography OR magnetoencephalography))” and with terms “(psychology habituation (fetal OR neonate OR children) (human brain))” were performed to identify studies on developmental changes in event-related brain responses as well as habituation studies during child development.

Results: Both search results showed a wide diversity of subjects’ ages, stimulation protocols and examined behaviour or components of event-related brain responses as well as a demand for more longitudinal study designs.

Conclusions: A conclusive statement about clear developmental trends in event-related brain responses or in neurophysiological habituation studies is difficult to draw. Future studies should implement longitudinal designs, combination of behavioural and neurophysiological habituation measurement and more complex habituation paradigms to assess several habituation criteria.

Significance: This review emphasizes that event-related brain responses underlie certain changes during child development which should be more considered in the context of neurophysiological habituation studies.

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