What are Brainwaves?
Brainwaves are electrical pulses in your brain. At the core of every thought, emotion and behavior are the connections between neurons in your brain. The human brain has billions of neurons that connect to thousands of others. Neurons connect through small electrical pulses that travel throughout huge networks of brain circuits.
This activity is strong enough to detect outside the brain using electrodes placed on the scalp. This activity can then be amplified, analyzed, and visualized on screen.
Brainwaves are divided into bandwidth ranges that describe their specific functions. There are five different brainwave bandwidth ranges, and each one corresponds to a Greek letter.
The 5 Main Brainwave Frequencies
Delta Waves: 0.5 to 4 HZ
Delta brainwaves generate during deep, dreamless sleep and deep meditation. Brainwaves in the Delta range promote healing and regeneration. Therefore, deep restorative sleep is essential to the healing process.
Theta Waves: 4 to 8 HZ
Theta brainwaves are usually most often present in sleep but are also highly detectable in deep meditation. Brainwaves in the Theta range are known as the gateway to learning, memory, and intuition. When your brainwaves are predominantly Theta, your senses withdraw from the outside world and instead focus on signals from within. Theta brainwaves promote intuition and information beyond our normal conscious awareness.
Alpha Waves: 8 to 13 HZ
Alpha brainwaves are usually present during quietly flowing thoughts and in some meditative states. Frequencies within the Alpha range are ‘Living in the Moment,’ being here, in the present. Alpha waves help overall mental coordination, calmness, alertness, mind/body integration, and learning.
Beta Waves: 13 to 32 HZ
Beta brainwaves are highly dominant during our normal daily state of consciousness when attention focuses on cognitive tasks and dealing with the outside world. Brainwaves in the Beta frequency range provide ‘fast’ activity, present when alert, attentive, engaged in problem-solving, decision making, or focused activity.
Gamma Waves: 32 to 100 HZ
Gamma is the fastest brainwave and relates to the simultaneous processing of information from different areas of the brain. Brainwaves in the Gamma frequency range can pass information very quickly. The most subtle of all brainwave frequencies, the mind must be quiet to access gamma.
People normally experience all these brainwave types at different times during a regular day. For example, when solving a difficult puzzle, Beta waves are more active. When taking a coffee break or daydreaming, Alpha waves are more active. When in bed, right before sleeping, Theta waves would be most active.
Any process that alters your perception changes your brainwaves. Methods such as Brainwave Entrainment can stimulate your brain into entering a specific brainwave frequency using pulsing sound frequencies, light, or electromagnetic fields. These pulses can gently adjust your brainwave frequency to match the source frequency of the pulse being used.
We can see the frequency adjusting response that brainwave entrainment shows in those prone to epilepsy. If a strobe light flashes at their matching seizure frequency, their brain will ‘entrain’ to the flashing light, which would cause a seizure.
On the plus side, we use this same method to activate different brainwave states. These states include; trance, meditation, relaxation, focus, or sleep induction. Brainwave entrainment is very effective at inducing the required state.
Brainwave entrainment works for most people. It is an effective way to guide your mind into states that may usually be more difficult to reach, allowing you to experience what those states feel like.
Hasminda Hassan, Zunairah Murat, Valerie Ross, Norlida Buniyamin: A preliminary study on the effects of music on human brainwaves
Anne Trafton: Brain waves encode rules for behavior