What Are Brainwaves?

What Are Brainwaves?

Brainwaves are the result of the brain’s electrical activity.

Our brains emit continuously in various frequency bands from sleep to full wakefulness. All the sounds we hear every day emit a specific frequency (eg cars, birds, water flow) and generate an electrical response in the brain. When we hear a sound for some time our brain is tuned to it.

Our brain is made up of billions of brain cells called neurons, which use electricity to communicate with each other. The combination of millions of neurons sending signals at once produces an enormous amount of electrical activity in the brain, which can be detected using sensitive medical equipment (such as an EEG), measuring electricity levels over areas of the scalp.

The combination of electrical activity of the brain is commonly called a brainwave pattern, because of its cyclic, “wave-like” nature. Below is one of the first recordings of brain activity 1:

eeg_rec

Here is a more modern EEG recording:

modern_eeg

Brainwave Frequencies

With the discovery of brainwaves came the discovery that electrical activity in the brain will change depending on what the person is doing. For instance, the brainwaves of a sleeping person are vastly different than the brainwaves of someone wide awake. Over the years, more sensitive equipment has brought us closer to figuring out exactly what brainwaves represent and with that, what they mean about a person’s health and state of mind. Here is a table showing the known brainwave types and their associated mental states:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Significance of Brainwaves

You can tell a lot about a person simply by observing their brainwave patterns. For example, anxious people tend to produce an overabundance of high beta waves while people with ADD/ADHD tend to produce an overabundance of slower alpha/theta brainwaves. Researchers have found that not only are brainwaves representative of of mental state, but they can be stimulated to change a person’s mental state, and this in turn can help with a variety of mental issues.

We recommend you to read the article of Tina Huang ,PhD (Transparent Corp.), “A Comprehensive Review of the Psychological Effects of Brainwave Entrainment”.

*As a precautionary measure, it is common to recommend that brainwave entrainment is not used by pregnant women, people diagnosed with epilepsy, people using pacemakers, or people under 18, though there are no reported cases of negative effects or trauma associated with these people using brainwave entrainment.

We attach all credits in Transparent Corp. on this list. They created perhaps the most comprehensive list of reference relative to brainwaves that exists online.

1. Berger, H. (1929). Über das elektrenkephalogramm des menschen. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 87(1), 527-570.
2. Crone, N. E., Hao, L., Hart, J., Boatman, D., Lesser, R. P., Irizarry, R., & Gordon, B. (2001). Electrocorticographic gamma activity during word production in spoken and sign language. Neurology, 57(11), 2045-2053.
3. Burle, B., & Bonnet, M. (2000). High-speed memory scanning: a behavioral argument for a serial oscillatory model. Cognitive Brain Research, 9(3), 327-337.
4. Miltner, W. H., Braun, C., Arnold, M., Witte, H., & Taub, E. (1999). Coherence of gamma-band EEG activity as a basis for associative learning. Nature,397(6718), 434-436.
5. John, E. R., Prichep, L. S., Kox, W., Valdes-Sosa, P., Bosch-Bayard, J., Aubert, E., & Gugino, L. D. (2001). Invariant reversible QEEG effects of anesthetics. Consciousness and cognition, 10(2), 165-183.
6. Munk, M. H., Roelfsema, P. R., König, P., Engel, A. K., & Singer, W. (1996). Role of reticular activation in the modulation of intracortical synchronization.Science, 272(5259), 271-274.
7. Brenner, R. P., Ulrich, R. F., Spiker, D. G., Sclabassi, R. J., Reynolds III, C. F., Marin, R. S., & Boller, F. (1986). Computerized EEG spectral analysis in elderly normal, demented and depressed subjects. Electroencephalography and clinical neurophysiology, 64(6), 483-492.
8. Egner, T., & Gruzelier, J. H. (2004). EEG biofeedback of low beta band components: frequency-specific effects on variables of attention and event-related brain potentials. Clinical Neurophysiology, 115(1), 131-139.
9. Hauri, P. (1981). Treating psychophysiologic insomnia with biofeedback.Archives of General Psychiatry, 38(7), 752.
10. Siever, D. (2004). The application of audio-visual entrainment for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder. Biofeedback, 32 (3), 32-35.
11. Howard CE, Graham LE, 2nd, Wycoff SJ. A comparison of methods for reducing stress among dental students. J Dent Educ. 1986;50(9):542-544
12. Patrick GJ. Improved neuronal regulation in ADHD: An application of 15 sessions of photic-driven EEG neurotherapy. J Neurother. 1996;1(4):27-36.
13. Cahn BR, Polich J. Meditation states and traits: EEG, ERP, and neuroimaging studies. Psychol Bull. 2006 Mar;132(2):180-211.
14. Williams, J., Ramaswamy, D. and Oulhaj, A., 2006. 10 Hz flicker improves recognition memory in older people. BMC Neurosci. 7, 21.
15. Williams JH. Frequency specific effects of flicker on recognition memory. Neuroscience. 2001;104(2):283-286
16. Nomura T, Higuchi K, Yu H, et al. Slow-wave photic stimulation relieves patient discomfort during esophagogastroduodenoscopy. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006;21(1 Pt 1):54-58
17. Ossebaard HC. Stress reduction by technology? An experimental study into the effects of brainmachines on burnout and state anxiety. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2000;25(2):93-101
18. Wickramasekera I, I. E. (1977). On attempts to modify hypnotic susceptibility: Some psychophysiological procedures and promising directions. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 296, 143-153
19. Sabourin, M. E., Cutcomb, S. D., Crawford, H. J., & Pribram, K. (1990). EEG correlates of hypnotic susceptibility and hypnotic trance: spectral analysis and coherence. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 10(2), 125-142.
20. Botella-Soler, V., Valderrama, M., Crépon, B., Navarro, V., & Le Van Quyen, M. (2012). Large-scale cortical dynamics of sleep slow waves. PloS one, 7(2), e30757.

References:

http://www.transparentcorp.com/products/np/brainwaves.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainwave_entrainment

http://www.brainandhealth.com/

http://www.doctorhugo.org/brainwaves/brainwaves.html

http://nhahealth.com/

http://www.brainwavecollege.com/

https://www.binauralbeatsmeditation.com/is-it-safe-to-use-binaural-beats-during-pregnancy/

http://www.brainwavelove.com/brainwave-entrainment-side-effects-what-are-they

https://www.transparentcorp.com/community/forum/topic/2616-brainwave-entrainment-and-pregnant-women

https://www.transparentcorp.com/products/general_faq.php

http://jtoomim.org/brain-training/brain%20wave%20entrainment%20and%20WISC.pdf

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