Types of Brain Waves
Types of Brain Waves
Table of Contents
At its core, the brain is an electrochemical organ that uses fluids, hormones, and electrical signals to direct thought, to receive information and stimuli, and form personalities and thought actions in every human being. Those electrical signals move in “brain waves” that can be organized into types of brain waves and detected through certain brain mapping tests that measure electrical energy using specialized sensors.
Through studying and understanding brain waves, neuroscientists and psychologists can gain a more accurate understanding of their clients’ conditions or needs. They can then use that information to formulate treatment plans that are effective for clients’ unique circumstances.
What Are Brain Waves?
In short, brain waves are electrical impulses generated in the brain to send information or to induce electrochemical changes. The brain creates brain waves by synchronizing various electrical pulses using different masses of neurons as they communicate with each other. Neurons are the cells in the brain that carry electrical information from place to place.1
The brain produces brain waves constantly, and these waves cannot be controlled by the individual to any major degree. Instead, the brain automatically generates different types of brain waves depending on the type of task it needs to complete, or the state is currently in. Brain waves cannot be substituted for one another and each serves different functions. It is thought that the size or type of brain waves make them more or less appropriate for conducting certain information.
Because there are different types and quantities of information that need to be sent depending on circumstances or thoughts, the brain sends five different types of brain waves that oscillate at different speeds. Brain wave speeds are measured in hertz or cycles per second.
Brain Activity Types
Slow Brain Waves
“Slow” activity brain waves feature more space between wave oscillations. When a brainwave is referred to as slow, it doesn’t refer to the speed of the thought itself. From the perspective of a client, different brain waves are either indistinguishable from each other or cannot be detected at all, as is the case with Delta waves during sleep.
“Slow” brain waves are simply waves that oscillate at slower frequencies than others. They have lower amplitude, meaning that the waves crest at lower levels. They also typically have more space between oscillating peaks.
In many cases, slow activity brain waves are used during times of rest or recreation or the brain. These include times like:
- Intense focus
- And more
“Fast” activity brain waves have less space between wave oscillations or peaks. As opposed to slow activity brain waves, fast activity brain waves peak more frequently. However, they are not indicative of “faster thoughts” or cognitive processing.
Instead, fast activity brain waves are used for times of intense concentration or cognition, including:
- Mechanical tasks
- Alertness or stressful periods
- And more
Types of Brain Waves
There are five types of brain waves detectable by EEG or electroencephalography scans. EEG scans are the most used for brain mapping and scanning techniques, as these scans are not invasive and allow the patient to remain comfortable throughout the scanning process.2
Delta brain waves are the slowest and highest amplitude brain waves, featuring hertz ranges between 1-3 Hz. The brain produces Delta waves when it is asleep and not dreaming (i.e. in a deep sleep, not in a REM or rapid eye movement state).
These waves produce a calming effect on the mind and induce a loss of bodily awareness. They are extremely important so that the brain can repair itself on a neurological level from the daily wear and tear it receives. Delta waves originate from a small part of the brain called the thalamus.
Theta brain waves are the next slowest type and are measured in hertz frequencies between 4-7 Hz. These waves indicate a very relaxed brain state. As a result, they are most often measured during deep sleep (though not as deep as Delta wave sleep), as well as during REM cycles or dreaming periods.
However, people can also experience Theta brain waves when they consciously relax and start to daydream. For example, individuals who drive on the freeway and let their mind drift when there is not any traffic may experience Theta brainwave activity.
In states of reduced consciousness characterized by Theta brainwave activity, many people do not remember their actions or have difficulty recalling what they were thinking about. Theta brain waves are also common during meditative periods or at times when individuals are in a deeply creative or insightful state of mind.
Alpha brain waves are measured at frequencies between 8-12 Hz. These brain waves are faster but are still comparatively relaxed when examined next to beta or gamma brain waves. In most cases, Alpha brain wave activity is associated with a relaxed but conscious state. However, they may also indicate that the brain is shifting into an “idling” state and can shift to a faster brainwave state when necessary.
When a person’s brain is dominated by Alpha brain waves, they are likely to be both physically and mentally relaxed without being semi-conscious or distracted.
Beta brain waves are measured in frequencies between 13-38 Hz and are comparatively small and fast. They are associated with a state of mental or intellectual activity or outwardly focused concentration. Put simply, individuals who are alert and awake often display increased Beta brainwave activity, especially if they are thinking intensely on a problem or topic.
Furthermore, Beta brain waves are more frequent when an individual is excited or aroused by an activity, a conversation, or exercise. Beta brain waves do not necessarily indicate a state of stress or anxiety, though they can be produced by individuals experiencing these conditions.
Gamma brain waves are the shortest and fastest type. They appear in frequencies between 39-42 Hz and are often produced when individuals experience states of heightened perception, such as during times of stress or intense focus. For example, an individual taking a test and attempting to get every answer correct will likely produce more Gamma brain waves than normal.
Gamma brain waves are associated with a learning state or problem-solving state. Someone trying to solve a complex math problem or fix a mechanical issue may find that their brain generates more gamma brain waves. Gamma brain waves often appear in “rhythms,” which may modulate consciousness or perception.
How Can Measuring Brain Waves Help in Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedbackis an innovative therapy technique that involves taking qEEG scans and analyzing the information. After the results are examined, clients can better understand how their minds work. In addition, neurofeedback therapy can help clients “train” their brains to alleviate certain neurological disorders or conditions.
With neurofeedback therapy, clients are shown their qEEG scans and results. Once they see their cognitive activity, they are coached into changing their brains’ electrical activity. Over time, this progressive therapy can produce long-lasting results.3
By measuring brain waves and understanding how different brain waves affect the mind, patients will better understand how their brains work and what the electrical information recorded by EEG scans means. For example, brain waves are either inhibitory or excitatory. Some brain waves inhibit arousal by decreasing hormone releases or electrical activity. These also lead to states of poor concentration, daydreaming, or spaciness.
In contrast, other brain waves are associated with excitatory states, such as hyperactivity, agitation, or fidgeting. In summary, brain waves are a piece of crucial information that clients and medical professionals alike can use to better understand how the brain works and how to change it for the better.
How Important is it to Choose the Right qEEG Center?
While there are a variety of clinics and wellness centers using qEEG tests and neurofeedback therapy, the J. Flowers Health Institute is the best place to get personalized treatment and concierge medical service for addiction assistance or cognitive disorder diagnosis.
Many other qEEG centers offer one-size-fits-all approaches and solutions for their clients or patients. Thus, they are unable to provide their clients with the personalized attention and unique solutions that are often necessary for treating addiction and cognitive disorders.
The J. Flowers Health Institute is different. We are a one-of-a-kind institution for executives and professionals who only have a short amount of time to focus on their health and wellness. Furthermore, we are an effective clinic for treating young adults in need of assistance regarding addiction or psychological disorders.
Heal with J. Flowers Health Institute
As a state-of-the-art facility and organization, the J. Flowers Health Institute has the equipment and expertise necessary to leverage brain scanning and mapping technologies and techniques to their maximum effect. Through our assistance and attention to detail, many clients have already received the help they needed to overcome addiction or cognitive disorders.
We understand the value of discretion and privacy. To that end, we provide personalized support and care and total privacy for each of our clients. Contact the J. Flowers Health Institute today for more information and to see how we can help you.