What do synchronized vibrations add to the mind/body question?

Why is my awareness here, while yours is over there? Why is the universe split in two for each of us, into a subject and an infinity of objects? How is each of us our own center of experience, receiving information about the rest of the world out there? Why are some things conscious and others apparently not? Is a rat conscious? A gnat? A bacterium?

These questions are all aspects of the ancient “mind-body problem,” which asks, essentially: What is the relationship between mind and matter? It’s resisted a generally satisfying conclusion for thousands of years.

The mind-body problem enjoyed a major rebranding over the last two decades. Now it’s generally known as the “hard problem” of consciousness, after philosopher David Chalmers coined this term in a now classic paper and further explored it in his 1996 book, “The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory.”

Chalmers thought the mind-body problem should be called “hard” in comparison to what, with tongue in cheek, he called the “easy” problems of neuroscience: How do neurons and the brain work at the physical level? Of course they’re not actually easy at all. But his point was that they’re relatively easy compared to the truly difficult problem of explaining how consciousness relates to matter.

Over the last decade, my colleague, University of California, Santa Barbara psychology professor Jonathan Schooler and I have developed what we call a “resonance theory of consciousness.” We suggest that resonance – another word for synchronized vibrations – is at the heart of not only human consciousness but also animal consciousness and of physical reality more generally. It sounds like something the hippies might have dreamed up – it’s all vibrations, man! – but stick with me.

All about the vibrations

All things in our universe are constantly in motion, vibrating. Even objects that appear to be stationary are in fact vibrating, oscillating, resonating, at various frequencies. Resonance is a type of motion, characterized by oscillation between two states. And ultimately all matter is just vibrations of various underlying fields. As such, at every scale, all of nature vibrates.

Something interesting happens when different vibrating things come together: They will often start, after a little while, to vibrate together at the same frequency. They “sync up,” sometimes in ways that can seem mysterious. This is described as the phenomenon of spontaneous self-organization.

Mathematician Steven Strogatz provides various examples from physics, biology, chemistry and neuroscience to illustrate “sync” – his term for resonance – in his 2003 book “Sync: How Order Emerges from Chaos in the Universe, Nature, and Daily Life,” including:

  • When fireflies of certain species come together in large gatherings, they start flashing in sync, in ways that can still seem a little mystifying.
  • Lasers are produced when photons of the same power and frequency sync up.
  • The moon’s rotation is exactly synced with its orbit around the Earth such that we always see the same face.

Examining resonance leads to potentially deep insights about the nature of consciousness and about the universe more generally.

Sync inside your skull

Neuroscientists have identified sync in their research, too. Large-scale neuron firing occurs in human brains at measurable frequencies, with mammalian consciousness thought to be commonly associated with various kinds of neuronal sync.

For example, German neurophysiologist Pascal Fries has explored the ways in which various electrical patterns sync in the brain to produce different types of human consciousness.

Fries focuses on gamma, beta and theta waves. These labels refer to the speed of electrical oscillations in the brain, measured by electrodes placed on the outside of the skull. Groups of neurons produce these oscillations as they use electrochemical impulses to communicate with each other. It’s the speed and voltage of these signals that, when averaged, produce EEG waves that can be measured at signature cycles per second.

Gamma waves are associated with large-scale coordinated activities like perception, meditation or focused consciousness; beta with maximum brain activity or arousal; and theta with relaxation or daydreaming. These three wave types work together to produce, or at least facilitate, various types of human consciousness, according to Fries. But the exact relationship between electrical brain waves and consciousness is still very much up for debate.

Fries calls his concept “communication through coherence.” For him, it’s all about neuronal synchronization. Synchronization, in terms of shared electrical oscillation rates, allows for smooth communication between neurons and groups of neurons. Without this kind of synchronized coherence, inputs arrive at random phases of the neuron excitability cycle and are ineffective, or at least much less effective, in communication.

A resonance theory of consciousness

Our resonance theory builds upon the work of Fries and many others, with a broader approach that can help to explain not only human and mammalian consciousness, but also consciousness more broadly.

Based on the observed behavior of the entities that surround us, from electrons to atoms to molecules, to bacteria to mice, bats, rats, and on, we suggest that all things may be viewed as at least a little conscious. This sounds strange at first blush, but “panpsychism” – the view that all matter has some associated consciousness – is an increasingly accepted position with respect to the nature of consciousness.

The panpsychist argues that consciousness did not emerge at some point during evolution. Rather, it’s always associated with matter and vice versa – they’re two sides of the same coin. But the large majority of the mind associated with the various types of matter in our universe is extremely rudimentary. An electron or an atom, for example, enjoys just a tiny amount of consciousness. But as matter becomes more interconnected and rich, so does the mind, and vice versa, according to this way of thinking.

Biological organisms can quickly exchange information through various biophysical pathways, both electrical and electrochemical. Non-biological structures can only exchange information internally using heat/thermal pathways – much slower and far less rich in information in comparison. Living things leverage their speedier information flows into larger-scale consciousness than what would occur in similar-size things like boulders or piles of sand, for example. There’s much greater internal connection and thus far more “going on” in biological structures than in a boulder or a pile of sand.

Under our approach, boulders and piles of sand are “mere aggregates,” just collections of highly rudimentary conscious entities at the atomic or molecular level only. That’s in contrast to what happens in biological life forms where the combinations of these micro-conscious entities together create a higher level macro-conscious entity. For us, this combination process is the hallmark of biological life.

The central thesis of our approach is this: the particular linkages that allow for large-scale consciousness – like those humans and other mammals enjoy – result from a shared resonance among many smaller constituents. The speed of the resonant waves that are present is the limiting factor that determines the size of each conscious entity in each moment.

As a particular shared resonance expands to more and more constituents, the new conscious entity that results from this resonance and combination grows larger and more complex. So the shared resonance in a human brain that achieves gamma synchrony, for example, includes a far larger number of neurons and neuronal connections than is the case for beta or theta rhythms alone.

What about larger inter-organism resonance like the cloud of fireflies with their little lights flashing in sync? Researchers think their bioluminescent resonance arises due to internal biological oscillators that automatically result in each firefly syncing up with its neighbors.

Is this group of fireflies enjoying a higher level of group consciousness? Probably not, since we can explain the phenomenon without recourse to any intelligence or consciousness. But in biological structures with the right kind of information pathways and processing power, these tendencies toward self-organization can and often do produce larger-scale conscious entities.

Our resonance theory of consciousness attempts to provide a unified framework that includes neuroscience, as well as more fundamental questions of neurobiology and biophysics, and also the philosophy of mind. It gets to the heart of the differences that matter when it comes to consciousness and the evolution of physical systems.

It is all about vibrations, but it’s also about the type of vibrations and, most importantly, about shared vibrations.

By Tam Hunt / Creative Commons / The Conversation

Gamma brainwaves are the fastest documented brainwave frequency range, which oscillate within the range of about 30 to 100 Hz. They have the smallest amplitude on an E.E.G. in comparison to the other four basic types of brainwave frequencies. According to a popular theory [1], gamma waves may be implicated in creating the unity of conscious perception (the binding problem [2]).

Their Significance

In studies that have been done, gamma waves have showed increased mental activity/cognitive enhancement, freedom from distractibility, high levels of info-processing, learning and focus, high short-term memory ability and migraine prevention [3][4][5][6]. They’ve also shown some promise with depression and other disorders. They can certainly be very energizing as well.

Cognitive control of emotions plays an important role in maintaining emotional stability in our daily life. A study suggested that gamma brainwave activity reinforces the mechanism of cognitive control of emotion [7].

Another interesting fact is that at gamma brainwave state, neurons fire together, at the same time (as you will also see below). These fast rhythms are known to occur when people, for example, pay attention to the most relevant aspects of their surroundings – such as a person talking to them – and ignore distractions, like background music [8].

Relation to Meditation

Experiments on Tibetan Buddhist monks have shown a correlation between transcendental mental states and gamma waves. A 2004 study [9] took eight long-term Tibetan Buddhist practitioners of meditation and, using electrodes, monitored the patterns of electrical activity produced by their brains as they meditated.

The researchers compared the brain activity of the monks to a group of novice meditators (the study had these subjects meditate an hour a day for one week prior to empirical observation). In a normal meditative state, both groups were shown to have similar brain activity. However, when the monks were told to generate an objective feeling of compassion during meditation, their brain activity began to fire in a rhythmic, coherent manner, suggesting neuronal structures were firing in harmony. This was observed at a frequency of 25–40 Hz, the (typical) rhythm of gamma waves.

New research is continually being conducted, as brainwave stimulation continues the transition from a neurological curiosity to an important tool with practical and beneficial applications.

How Can we Experience Gamma Brainwaves?

As we saw above, the answer is meditation. People can train themselves to produce more of the gamma frequency, and by focusing on compassion and love is the way to do this. Another method to stimulate gamma brainwaves is by using brainwave entrainment.

The following is a session which uses isochronic tones that starts from low beta waves (12 Hz) and gradually goes to gamma waves (40 Hz) at about 20 minutes, till the end. It’s preferred to use it in the morning or afternoon, or whenever you want to be focused or energized. You can use it with or without headphones. However, if you are in a noisy environment, it is recommended to use headphones.

 

References:

[1] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053810099903999

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binding_problem

[3] http://braindynamics.iku.edu.tr/Pdf/Early%20gamma%20response%20is%20sensory%20in%20origin-%20a%20conclusion%20based%20on%20cross-comparison%20of%20results%20from%20multiple%20experimental%20paradigms.pdf

[4] http://www.transparentcorp.com/downloads/Huang-PsychologicalEffectsBrainwaveEntrainment.pdf

[5] Olmstead R. Use of auditory and visual stimulation to improve cognitive abilities in learning-disabled children. J Neurother. 2005;9(2):49-61

[6] Noton D. Migraine and photic stimulation: report on a survey of migraineurs using flickering light therapy. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 2000;6(3):138-142.

[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22254657

[8] http://sfari.org/news-and-opinion/news/2009/laser-technique-pins-source-of-brain-waves-linked-to-autism

[9] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC526201/

More sources that might interest you:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma_wave

http://www.livescience.com/14806-gamma-brain-learning-running.html

http://www.transparentcorp.com/research/gamma-brain-waves.php

http://www.brainwavesblog.com/tag/gamma-brainwaves/

http://www.gammamindset.com/

http://jonlieffmd.com/blog/neuronal-networks-brain-waves

If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.

– Nikola Tesla

Using sound to heal the body and relax the mind is nothing new; in fact it goes back to the beginning of time, but some of the most interesting ways to achieve this are by using Solfeggio frequencies, isochronic and binaural tones. You may be well aware of these already, but if you are not, you HAVE to give them a try. I recently added these “sound therapies” to my daily routine and I am amazed at the change I have experienced in my over-all state of mind and well-being. Even more amazing, is the fact that I “felt” a positive change in only a matter of minutes. I had to find out just how and why these sounds do what they do and share my findings with others.

The Law of Vibration

This law of nature states that everything moves, everything vibrates, and nothing rests. These vibrations may be lower (slower vibration) or higher (faster vibrations). These vibrational energy levels are known as “frequencies” and are measured in Hertz (Hz). A Hertz is equal to ONE vibrational cycle per second.

I won’t go too deep into a physics lessons here, but it’s interesting to note that Dr. Colin W.F. McClare (Bio-Physicist), discovered that frequencies of vibrating energy are roughly 100 times more efficient in relaying information within a biological system than physical signals, such as hormones, neurotransmitters and other growth factors (Lipton 2008). That would explain how different frequencies can impact our moods and emotions and the moods and emotions of those around us. It is believed that feeling of sadness, anger, fear, and dread for example have a low frequency while feelings, of love, happiness, gratitude, etc. have a high frequency.

Solfeggio Frequencies

Everyone today can easily recognize the 7 note scale assigned to the syllables Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti, but the ancient version was a 6 note scale assigned to the ascending syllables Ut-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La. This is the ancient Solfeggio Scale. This ancient 6 note scale was created by Benedictine monk, Guido d’Arezzo (991 AD – 1050 AD). The scale was used as a teaching tool to help others learn chants and songs easier. Each tone in the scale produces a specific frequency; these frequencies have been discovered to have very specific impacts on the body.

According to information gathered from Attuned Vibrations:

UT- 396 Hz = turning grief into joy, liberating guilt & fear: searches out hidden blockages, subconscious negative beliefs, and ideas that have led to your present situations.

RE- 417 Hz = undoing situations and facilitating change: puts you in touch with an inexhaustible source of energy that allows you to change your life.

MI- 528 Hz = transformation and miracles (DNA repair): increased amount of life energy, clarity of mind, awareness, awakened or activated creativity, ecstatic states like deep inner peace, dance and celebration. Also, activates your imagination, intention and intuition to operate for your highest and best purpose.

FA- 639 Hz = re-connecting and balancing, relationships: enhances communication, understanding, tolerance and love.

Sol- 741 Hz = solving problems, expressions/solutions: leads to a healthier, simpler life, and also to changes in diet. Also, leads you into the power of self-expression, which results in a pure and stable life.

LA- 852 Hz = awakening intuition, returning to spiritual order: ability to see through the illusions of your life, such as hidden agendas of people, places and things. Opens a person up for communication with the all-embracing Spirit and raises awareness and lets you return to spiritual order. In addition to the original 6 above, 3 other tones have been shown to have healing properties. Together the 9 make up the, Solfeggio frequencies.

SI- 963 Hz = awakens any system to its original, perfect state: enables direct experience, the return to Oneness.

174 Hz = natural anesthetic: reduce pain physically and energetically.

285 Hz = helps return tissue into its original form: influences energy fields, sending them a message to restructure damaged organs. It also leaves your body rejuvenated and energized.

Isochronic & Binaural Tones

Referred to as brainwave entrainment, these tones and beats are distinctive sound pulses that are often combined with soothing sounds or music. They have a direct impact on your brain activity changing the frequency of your brainwaves, so you can train your brain to enter various mental states and levels of consciousness. These states are similar to what the brain experiences during meditation and can have similar benefits on the body. The magic of isochronic and binaural beats/tones is that they target and work on various brainwave frequencies to achieve various impacts on the body.

Beta brain waves – 12 Hz to 30 Hz = help regulate and stabilize your normal waking awareness. Entrainment of your beta waves may also be used to increase your ability to concentrate and may even improve your IQ.

Alpha brain waves – 8 Hz to 12 Hz = states of relaxation, enhances creativity, mental clarity, and the brain is more receptive to information. Alpha is great for stress relief and relaxation.

Theta brain waves – 4 Hz to 7 Hz = state of deep meditation/relaxation: improved concentration, major reductions in stress and improved memory retention. Blood pressure, breathing and heart rate will all slow to a much more restful and healthy level that promotes natural healing.

Delta brain waves – 0.1 Hz to 4 Hz = deepest state of complete relaxation: dreamless, completely unconscious sleep state that allows your body and brain to rest and repair. This is the most effective way to encourage your mind to release itself from an overactive waking state and enter into a sleep state.

Binaural tones play slightly different frequencies in each ear so headphones are a must for them to work! With isochronic tones, the ears receive the same simple pulse of sound, so headphones aren’t required, but they can enhance the experience.

The brain needs about 7 full minutes for these tones to start to work, but to get and feel the benefits; at least 15-30 minutes are recommended. With these tones it is wise to note that you should only listen to them when you have time to relax or meditate. Do not listen while driving a car or operating machinery. Certain people, those that are affected by seizures or other similar health conditions, shouldn’t listen to these tones.

These sound therapies can be an excellent tool for those who are beginning meditation practices or by anyone who wants to add to their daily well-being rituals. No matter what your goal is, the above are great ways to relax and improve your mood fast! Be well!

References:

This article was originally posted at Learning Mind and used here with permission.

About the author

Amie Moses is a full-time student of Psychology and she holds a degree in Natural Science as well. She is a blogger, photographer, and musician. She is completely fascinated by the human mind, (especially personality, perception, and consciousness studies) and the physical as well as the metaphysical universe. She is a seeker of knowledge and of “self” and she loves to help others on their quests as well.

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