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Human Brain Waves

Human Brain Waves

Human brain waves are patterns of electrical activity, pulses that occur between masses of neurons in the brain.

Brain waves were first measured in hertz by Hans Berger in 1924 using an electroencephalogram (EEG).

They vary significantly throughout the day and in different states, depending on what one is doing and feeling. Higher frequencies dominate when one is alert or anxious, while lower ones are more active when we are relaxed, drowsy or asleep. At any given moment, areas of the brain will emit many waves with varying characteristics. 

These frequencies have been likened to a symphony of musical notes and sounds representing “a continuous spectrum of consciousness.” There are five well recognized brain waves. These are labelled simply after the Greek letters:

Delta 0.5 – 4 Hz:  Delta brainwaves are generated in deepest meditation and associated with deep, dreamless sleep. In deep sleep, the body makes physical repairs.

Theta, 4 – 8 Hz:  Theta rhythms dominate during the first stage of sleep or in deep meditation. When you wake in the morning and are not yet fully awake, theta waves may dominate. Theta waves represent an internal focus and relate to the subconscious mind. They are associated with REM sleep and vivid dreams.

Alpha, 8 – 12 Hz:  Alpha brainwaves represent a resting state as when one is day dreaming, visualizing or lying down with your eyes closed. While doing a repetitive task, alpha waves may dominate when you may find thoughts wandering from a repetitive task or while running.

Beta, 12 – 35 Hz:  Beta brainwaves are ‘fast’. They dominate our waking state where our attention is on daily activities, problem solving and decision making.

Gamma, 35-100 Hz:  Gamma brainwaves or gamma rhythms are linked to simultaneous processing of information from many different brain areas called “large scale brain network activity”. Subjects who practice ‘open monitoring meditation’, research suggests, experience sustained gamma-activity: in this exercise practitioners “use the brain to monitor the universe of mental experience without directing attention to any one task.” Gamma activity is linked to expanded consciousness, altruism, love.

Neuroplasticity has become a buzzword, and it relates to the ability of the brain to change itself.  Our behaviour and our daily activities can affect the pathways in our brains, whether through regular practice of music, sport or meditation, or alternatively through ongoing stress, traumatic experiences or negative thoughts and emotions.  Neurofeedback, or EEG biofeedback, is a targeted approach to increasing or decreasing the activity of certain brain waves, and can target specific areas of the brain.  This is an innovative and evidence-based treatment for ADHD, epilepsy, concussion and other functional brain syndromes. 



Brain Sarcodes (includes Brain Wave frequencies)

Sleep Disorders

Human Anatomical / Functional Systems



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