One of neuroscience’s objects of interest is how the brain encodes thoughts at cellular level.Trying to solve this complicated puzzle, neuroscientists observed that, as switching back and forth between different tasks, the billions of neurons from the brain are generating rhythmic fluctuations and frequencies of electrical activity.
A particular form of electrical activity, of a specific frequency, rhythm and intensity, is commonly called a Brainwave pattern, because of its cyclic, ‘wave-like’ nature. Our mind operates at five predominant Brainwave States or Frequencies: Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta and Gamma. These different states are classified according to the speed of the predominant brainwave signals from one neurological point to another at any one point in time. Each frequency, expressed in cycles per second (‘Hertz’), can be measured using a sensitive medical equipment as an electroencephalograph.
Beta (12-30Hz): This brainwave frequency is usually registered during daytime, when our mind is completely aware and conscious, with a heightened state of alertness, logic and critical reasoning. Beta frequencies are brainwave cycles of 12-30 Hz. If these levels get higher for a longer period of time, stress, anxiety and “over thinking” install. Our conscious mind becomes misguided or reacts negatively to a given situation. On the physical level, high brainwave beta frequency causes hypertension, increased heart rate, increased blood flow, cortisone production and glucose consumption.
Alpha (7.5-12Hz): In the Alpha state, conscious awareness and subconscious combine one with each other. The left side of the brain is more active in this state, activating in cycles between 7,5Hz and 12 Hz. The individual feels relaxed and is daydreaming. Alpha frequencies heighten imagination, visualization, memory, learning and concentration. The relaxed detached awareness of Alpha state is optimal for programming the mind for success. It is the gateway to the subconscious mind. Frequencies between 7 to 8 Hz, known as Alpha-Theta border, are the optimal range for visualization, mind programming and using the creative power of your mind.
Theta (4-7.5Hz): These types of brainwaves are usually present during light sleep, in dreaming (REM stage), and in deep relaxation and meditation states. The conscious mind is mostly ‘switched off’ and subconscious takes control. Theta is where ideas, visualizations and suggestion are more likely to enter the subconscious mind. It is said that a sense of deep spiritual connection and unity with the universe can be experienced at Theta.
Some memory studies showed that theta waves can intensify and diminish unpredictably at different times of day, when we are awake and conscious. They are present in certain cyclical, spontaneous brain states that are especially conducive to retrieving information. It’s when we suddenly remember something we have tried hardly to remember without success.
Delta (1-4 Hz): Delta waves occur in the deepest stages of sleep (the dreamless sleep) or in extremely deep relaxation states where awareness is fully detached. While sleeping, they appear in stage 3 of sleep, but by stage 4 nearly all spectral activity is dominated by delta waves. These types of frequencies are the slowest, but the highest in amplitude.
Delta level is considered the realm of the unconscious mind, and a gateway to the universal mind and the collective unconscious, where information received is otherwise unavailable at the conscious level.
In the Delta stage, the healing, rejuvenating and regeneration processes accelerate.
Gamma (30-100Hz): Gamma waves are the most recently discovered range, due to the development of the digital electroencephalographs (old type could not measure these frequencies). They are a frequency pattern of normal brain activity that measures between 25 and 100 HZ, with around 40 Hz being typical in humans. They are the fastest in frequency, but the smallest in amplitude. Neuroscientists associate them with peak concentration and extremely high levels of cognitive functioning. In Gamma waves, information from all parts of the brain is linked. The wave moves extremely fast from the back to the front of the brain and back again- 40 times per second. In this full sweep action, the individual reaches the peak of mental and physical performance. People with very high levels of Gamma are intelligent, have an excellent memory, are happy and have a strong self-control.
Usually, the human mind naturally switches between the different states of mind according to the current environment or situation, but there are also artificial ways to change one brainwave frequency state to another. Most commonly methods are hypnosis, meditation, music, massage, drugs, alcohol, yoga, video games, TV, driving, reading. On a personal level, by learning the best way to lower your mind state to Alpha, Theta and even Delta, it is possible create numerous positive emotional, mental and physical benefits. On an upper level, for neuroscientists, controlling the switching between different stages of mind operating could help in the treatment of several major diseases.