What are brainwave frequencies and brainwaves
Also known as neural oscillations, brainwave frequencies and brainwaves are the result of synchronised communication activity between many thousands of neurons in the brain. The brain by nature is electro-chemical. And it is the result of this constant interplay of electrical activity that produces our patterns of brainwave frequencies. Which are assoxiated with our mental state.
Brainwaves are measured primarily by an EEG test via sensitive electrodes placed on the head. And the dominant frequencies present during certain states of mind and dis-orders have become well known.
Are relaxation brain frequencies different to active frequencies
Slower brainwave frequencies are associated with relaxing states. And faster brainwave frequencies are associated with more active mind states like creativity and physical action. Listed below are the range of known frequency bands of brainwaves. And included is a brief explanation as to the most common states of mind associated with those bands. One of the most useful applications of this information on brainwaves, is the practice of brainwave entrainment or audio visual entrainment. An example being the Roxiva audio visual brainwave entrainment device.
Do brainwave frequencies constantly change
Our brainwave frequencies are constantly changing during the day to suit the state of mind required for the context we are in. Usually at any one time there is a dominant frequency present. However, the overall brain state can often be more complex than that. There is a type of synchronised blend that creates harmonies of brainwave activity. And a feedback loop from one range or band of frequencies to another. For example in the case of Theta Gamma coupling where one acts as almost a type of operating system for the other.
The standard measurement for brainwave frequencies is given in cycles per second or Hertz (Hz).
Brainwave frequency listings:
The specific range for each band listed can change depending on who is giving it. Below are the most common. I have separated them into two categories. Relaxation brainwave frequencies and arousal brainwave frequencies.
What are the brainwave frequencies associated with relaxation:
These brainwaves are more common in a relaxed body and mind state. Typically you will be inactive and purposely relaxing, asleep, or in a trance state like hypnosis and hypnotherapy. Although they are often present in combination with higher brainwave frequencies.
What are Epsilon/Slow waves (less than 0.5Hz)
Epsilon waves are most often referred to as super slow, infra low or just slow waves. And they are sometimes included in the Delta range for discussion. These frequencies are a little difficult to accurately measure but are most often detected during very deep sleep. They are considered to be an underlying frequency linked to many others and responsible for basic neural timing and function. And super slow wave activity is reported to modulate communication across the brain of all the other brainwaves.
Stimulation at these super slow brainwave frequencies can in rare cases create dissociation and very deep states of trance or meditation. Although the most common result is sleep. Theta waves are more useful for deep relaxation without sleep.
What are Delta waves (0.5 – 4Hz)
Delta brainwaves are most common in deep meditative states or non-REM sleep. And they are the state the brain goes into during the deepest phases of sleep where restoration, recovery and growth take place. Human growth hormone (HGH) is released during this brain state as well as processes of brain cleaning where toxins are removed. As people age they sometimes lack this level of sleep. And it is suspected that this is a major part of what causes age related disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Stimulation at this frequency can create extreme relaxation and a feeling of rejuvenation and renewal.
Typically we sleep in 90 minute cycles of which Delta is the lowest dreamless state. And Theta is the most common where most of our dreaming occurs.
What are Theta waves (4 – 8Hz)
Theta is most common in sleep and also trance and meditation states. And is sometimes referred to as the twilight state.
This is where we dream and get access to our unconscious thoughts, memories and other worldly experiences. Stimulating frequencies in this range can lead to emotional release, meditation states, hypnotic trance and even increase blood flow to the brain. This state can also be achieved in the free flow of idea’s, thoughts and intuition. And this can happen when running, listening to music or relaxing in a shower or bath. The Earths pulse or Earth frequency falls in this range of Theta. Called the Schumann resonance, it is listed as 7.83Hz and can lead to a sense of feeling grounded. Young children up to the age of about 7 have a much higher percentage of Theta brainwaves. And this is one of the reasons they absorb information and learn so quickly.
Theta activity (coupled with Gamma spikes) is also present when memories are replayed and encoded into long term memory during sleep.
And Theta has a reputation for many benefits so is probably one of the most used brainwave frequencies.
What are Alpha waves (8 – 12Hz)
Alpha is the in between state of a quiet relaxed but semi alert mind. Almost like the bridge between our conscious and unconscious minds. And is the brains resting state of calm but aware. Mild meditative states, reading, a present focused mind, and a good mind body connection are encouraged with Alpha stimulation.
In healthy people, this is a common state to go into many times a day. Usually for short periods of time when you are active, or longer periods of time if you are inactive.
Walking in nature or closing your eyes will often quickly get you into an Alpha state.
What are the brainwave frequencies associated with arousal:
These brainwaves are more common in an aroused active body and mind state. Typically you will be active mentally and/or physically and enhanced creativity is one result of these higher brainwave frequencies. Although again, they are often present in combination with lower brainwave frequencies.
What are Beta waves (12 – 32Hz)
Beta is an aroused active state.
This is where you spend most of your day. Alertness and creativity as well as positive moods are common here along with some less desirable states like stress and anxiety. Therefore relief from anxiety can be found by entraining to lower frequencies like Alpha or Theta.
Beta is an outwardly focused state of mind compared to the lower frequencies that are more inwardly focussed.
Stimulation with these frequencies of brainwave can result in attentiveness, focus and problem solving to name a few.
Within the Beta range are levels common to readiness at the lower end, to active engagement in the middle, and excitement or stress at the higher end. Too much time spent here can be tiring and uses a lot of energy. Too little time here can lead to a low mood or depression.
The low end of this Beta range is also called Sensory Motor Rhythm (SMR) that is characterised as 12 – 15Hz. And this is considered an idling frequency of the brain. IE: A type of readiness for either going higher or lower in an instant.
What are Gamma waves (32 – 100Hz or more)
Gamma brainwaves are the fastest brainwave frequencies currently measurable with any accuracy. And are only recently becoming more important and measurable in research. Because improvements in EEG equipment has become more able to separate them from brain ‘noise’ caused by body movements and other interference.
These frequencies are fast but subtle. And are involved in many of our day to day functions including sleep, memory consolidation, and dream processes.
Long term meditators have been found to have higher amounts of Gamma in their brains. Leading to speculation that Gamma is an important part of higher conscious awareness, cognitive ability and more kindness and love based states.
Gamma is even in studies currently for it’s potential to improve cognitive function and possible even reverse or halt age related cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s.
What are Hyper-gamma and Lambda waves (100hz + and 200Hz +)
These terms are rarely used and often this range of frequencies are included in the Gamma range. They are very hard to measure but some reports refer to them as being the source of loving kindness, empathy and high awareness states.
Again these benefits are usually included in the Gamma range but experience in creating sessions for people that include this level of stimulation has produced some quite dramatic results.
A summary of brainwave frequencies
In summary, your moment to moment state is naturally linked to your brainwave frequencies and patterns. An imbalance or over stimulation in one range can create a number of mental challenges ranging from ADHD to anxiety.
There is a growing body of research and knowledge to suggest that stimulation can and does help people correct imbalances. Resulting in a kick start to parts of the brain. Examples of such stimulation being audio visual brainwave entrainment technologies and neurofeedback practices
And then there is the more fun centred entertainment and inner journeys that can be experienced. Particularly with Roxiva psychedelic brainwave entrainment. This is where photic light based stimulation of brainwave frequencies known to cause visual displays of colour, pattern and movement are combined with music to create a drug free psychedleic trip. And that, is another subject entirely.