The manner in which your brain conducts electricity varies remarkably. Also known as brain waves, these electrical signals occur throughout your cortex. There are several different types of brain waves that have distinctly measurable patterns.
Understanding brain waves and how they contribute to brain function is an important component of research and brain study. Using an electroencephalograph (EEG), researchers can observe and measure brain patterns. The more we learn about how these function, the better we can understand how they contribute to better mental health and self hypnosis.
Brain Flexibility & Brain Wave Functionality
One of the challenges researchers often face is dealing with the brain’s flexibility. The brain can transition among all the measurable brain wave frequencies depending on specific circumstances. From a practical standpoint, this means that brain waves will change depending on what’s happening in a person’s life. This could include dealing with a stressful situation, remaining focused on work or even properly sleeping.
Since these waves can differ depending on the circumstances, there is no type of brain wave that is better than another. In the same breath, however, over-produced or under-produced waves can cause a variety of problems within individuals.
Getting to Know the 5 Primary Brain Waves
First and foremost, it’s important to mention that brain waves are not standalone activities in your cortex. Each wave can vary throughout a day – with specific types becoming dominant depending on what you’re doing. However, all 5 waves are present at all times in varying degrees.
The 5 measurable brain waves will be outlined in the following sections.
• Range of Frequency: 40Hz – 100Hz
• Over-produced Effects: Stress, Anxiety & Greater Levels of Perceptive Arousal
• Under-produced Effects: Depression, Various Learning Disabilities, ADHD & Inability to Effectively Focus
• Gamma Increase Triggers: Quiet Relaxation & Meditation
Gamma brain waves typically refer to brain activities related to higher-order tasks and cognition. These brain waves are associated with all the critical components of thought processing and information processing. This is particularly true for learning skills, memory, and general perception.
Researchers theorise that Gamma frequencies are also a primary component to binding our senses together within perception itself. Studies of developmentally disabled subjects often show lower-than-average Gamma waves in their brain activity. This data suggests that gamma may act as the ‘glue’ to bring sensory perception together into a higher cognitive whole.
• Range of Frequency: 12Hz – 40Hz
• Over-produced Effects: High Anxiety & Stress, Increased Consciousness Arousal, Difficulty Relaxing
• Under-produced Effects: Inability to Focus, Depression, Difficulty in Cognitive Skills
• Beta Increase Triggers: Caffeine & Other Stimulants
Beta waves are typically observed when we’re in a wakeful state of consciousness. Also known as high frequency/low amplitude brain waves, they play an important role in conscious thought while awake.
Beta waves help us in our logical thinking processes with a brain-stimulating effect. When they’re at optimal levels, they can contribute to a much more successful level of focus. This holds true particularly for mental-intensive tasks such as focusing for school or written work.
When beta frequencies are at abnormal levels, you will likely experience much greater levels of anxiety and related stress. In general, however, the major effect that occurs is an overall increase in your arousal and conscious awareness. Stimulants such as caffeine will have an effect on your beta wave levels.
• Range of Frequency: 8Hz – 12Hz
• Over-produced Effects: Over-Relaxation, Attention & Focus Problems
• Under-produced Effects: Excessive Anxiety & Stress, Insomnia & Sleep Problems
• Alpha Increase Triggers: Marijuana, Alcohol, Antidepressants & Relaxants, Self Hynosis
Alpha waves help to connect our mind’s conscious thinking with our subconscious. Occurring between beta and theta frequencies, these waves can help to regulate the chaos that may occur across these two components of the mind.
Alpha waves can help us to calm down, depending on the circumstances. They can also help us feel more relaxed and to de-stress as needed throughout the day.
Certain stressful situations can create an occurrence known as alpha blocking – where lots of beta brain wave activity occurs with almost no alpha waves. Alpha blocking can be important in situations where you may not want to be calmed down or relaxed. This could include in high-stress scenarios where you must remain on high alert.
• Range of Frequency: 4Hz – 8Hz
• Over-produced Effects: Depression, Impulsiveness, Higher ‘Suggestibility,’ Difficulty with Focus & Attention
• Under-produced Effects: Stress, Lack of Emotional Awareness, Feeling Uneven or Abnormal in Mental State
• Theta Increase Triggers: Depressants
Much like Delta waves, Theta brain waves are a highly important component for healthy and functional sleep. These frequencies also serve as our direct connection to the authentic experience of our deepest emotions. Because of the link between sleep and emotional experiences, proper levels can contribute to a wealth of positive attributes within a person’s life.
Proper Theta levels directly contribute to our creativity, our overall intuition, and even our inspiration. For many people, healthy Theta function can make you feel more normal or natural in your waking hours.
Theta waves are typically at their highest during our sleep. If the levels spike during wakefulness, they can cause depression and other emotionally-fueled symptoms. In extreme cases, they can make people almost act hypnotized and much more ‘suggestible’ in their highly relaxed and ‘zoned out’ state.
• Range of Frequency: 0Hz – 4Hz
• Over-produced Effects: Learning Difficulties, Extreme ADHD, Inability to Think (Often Associated with Brain Injuries)
• Under-produced Effects: Sleep Problems, Lack of Bodily Rest & Rejuvenation, Body & Mind Fatigue
• Delta Increase Triggers: Improved Sleep, Depressants & Relaxants
Delta waves are important as the lowest-tier brain waves within human brain activity. Slower than any other type of activity, Delta waves are usually observed in infants and younger children.
As adults, we still exhibit this type of brain activity when we are in deep, restorative levels of sleep. This type of sleep is essential for overall healing function and related unconscious functions of the body. This includes regulating your resting heart rate, digestive activity and other bodily healing processes.
We typically produce fewer Delta waves as we get older – even when we’re in these stages of deeper, restorative sleep. But they remain extremely important in helping us feel refreshed, rejuvenated and sharply focused after a good night’s sleep.