Every living being has a centralized internal system that regulates and coordinates body movements with thoughts. This system is known as the brain. The discoveries related to the human brain are interesting as well as astonishing.
The human brain is advanced in its structure as well as functions. The study of the human brain is known as neurology. This subject explains in detail all the mysterious workings of the human brain.
One of those mysterious factors includes brain waves. Brain waves are generally described as rhythmic patterns in the central nervous system. These patterns are caused due to some neural activity in the brain. There are five types of brain waves, and they can be recorded with the help of Electroencephalography (EEG).
Let us dive deeper into the exciting history and working of brain waves.
An Informative Study of Brain Waves
Brain Waves are rhythmic patterns caused by neural activity in the brain. They are electrical impulses caused by the neurons when they interact individually or with other neurons. When these neurons interact with one another, they generate oscillatory patterns transferring electrical voltages in the brain.
It is believed that these oscillating patterns or types of brainwaves play a crucial role in processing neural information.
The patterns can be varied according to the interaction of the neurons. Therefore, this suggests the possibility of numerous brain wavelengths processing through the brain. These wavelengths can be types of brain waves that adjust in the brain depending on the need of the hour.
Let’s discuss the various types of brain waves:
A. Types of Brain Waves
Brain waves exist in different stages of our brain activity, which help us predict the brain’s awareness and guide us during some brain damage. These brainwaves are expressed as frequencies and measured in hertz [Hz].
There are types of brain waves classified based on the frequency they produce.
1. Delta Waves
The frequency of delta waves occurs between 0.5 to 4 Hz. It is considered to be the lowest level of the frequency produced by the brain. W. Grey Walter discovered this frequency in the 1930s.
This type of brain wave is primarily released in newborn babies, or one can generate it by sweeping oneself into deep meditation. The mind in this frequency stimulates deep restorative sleep, which helps the person to heal and regenerate.
This frequency allows a person to have a deep sleep which can be concluded as dreamless sleep, by excluding outside awareness and focusing on the inside.
2. Theta Waves
The frequency of theta brainwaves occurs between 4 to 8 Hz. This frequency is believed to be released when you are about to sleep or get up from sleep.
It may also sometimes be generated during sleep or through deep meditation.
Theta waves are connected to our subconscious brain. During theta waves frequency, it is easy to access our memory, and with that, our fears and phobias are also accessible. The mind tends to be calm amid theta waves frequency, making learning more accessible and awakening our intuitive power.
During theta waves frequency, we tend to disconnect from the outside world and focus on ourselves.
3. Alpha Waves
The frequency of alpha brainwaves occurs between 8 to 12 Hz. This frequency period is known as the resting phase of the brain. During this alpha state, the mind is calm, allowing our thoughts to flow freely.
This frequency can also be accessed through meditation. This frequency disconnects us from the external world, but this distraction doesn’t stay as long as theta waves frequency.
This small distraction period benefits a person by boosting his creativity, lowering his depression, increasing his pain tolerance, and also helps in learning, calmness of mind and body, and mainly mental health.
4. Beta Waves
The frequency of beta brainwaves occurs between 12 to 38 Hz. This frequency period is known as the waking state of consciousness. Our brain is awake for the outside world, captures information, and does extreme tasks during this frequency.
In the beta waves frequency, the mind becomes alert and attentive and goes into problem-solving mode.
This frequency makes the mind and body efficient, but it also takes more energy to do the work. Therefore, being continuously in this frequency can drain our energy.
There are three bands under beta waves that define the attentiveness of the brain:
- Beta 1 [Lo-Beta] – the frequency of beta 1 is 12 to 15 Hz, and in this frequency, the brain is musing, or sometimes it is idle.
- Beta 2 [Beta] – the frequency of beta 2 is 15 to 22 Hz. In this frequency, the brain tends to be in problem-solving mode.
- Beta 3 [Hi-Beta] – the frequency of beta 3 is 22 to 38 Hz. In this frequency, the brain tends to be in a complex thought process. This frequency can be generated through high anxiety or the new experience’s excitement.
5. Gamma Waves
The frequency of gamma waves occurs between 38 to 42 Hz, and it is considered the fastest brainwave among the types of brain waves.
Gamma waves help in processing information quickly and quietly. The brain, in this frequency, is more concentrated on things and makes the person more receptive towards the surrounding.
This frequency can be generated in the brain by doing deep meditation. The neuron firing in the brain during this frequency is above any other frequency, and it is not easily accessible.
The rhythmic patterns in the gamma waves indicate large-scale brain activity, which is viewed as modulating perception and expanded consciousness.
As we know the types of brain waves and their functions, let’s look into the history of discovering these brain waves.
B. Discovery of Brain Waves
Brain waves as a part of the human brain were discovered recently in the 20th century. Earlier, in 1875, the electrical activity in the brain of animals was discovered but we were not sure of human beings.
The first person to present his findings of the electric neural activity in the brain of rabbits and monkeys is Richard Caton.
In the year 1890, Adolf Beck published his observation of the same neural activity in the brains of rabbits and dogs. He also included the rhythmic oscillations detected with electrodes placed on the brain’s surface in his publishing.
In the year 1924, the first EEG [Electroencephalography] recording of the human brain was done. This was made possible by Hans Berger. Hans Berger was also the first to describe different types of brain waves; he discovered the alpha wave rhythm. In acknowledgment of that, alpha waves are referred to as Berger waves.
Electroencephalography [EEG] is a monitoring method to record the rhythmic brainwave patterns of the brain. EEG method is an electrophysiological method; therefore, it involves multiple electrodes being placed on the scalp.
With the help of electrodes, EEG records the frequencies fluctuation by the ionic current present in the brain’s neurons. In short, EEG records the mental activity of the brain.
EEG is used to diagnose various brain-related disorders such as epilepsy, sleep disorder, brain death, and many more. It is also used in testing the depth of anesthesia.
Let’s know more about brain-related diseases:
C. Brain Diseases – Causes and Effect
The brain is the central nervous system that coordinates the movements, thoughts, and actions according to a situation. Our sensory organs command it. Therefore, brain injury or damage can have a severe effect on a person’s life.
Brain damage can be caused internally by the neurons of the brain or externally through an accident. Internal damage can be detected through EEG as it can cause an effect on various frequencies of types of brain waves. Some of the examples are:
1. Alzheimer’s Disease
In simple words, Alzheimer’s disease causes memory loss and disables thinking ability and the ability to carry out work. This disease gets generated through the spread of beta-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles through the brain.
In short, the process starts with healthy neurons becoming less efficient in their work and eventually dying. Alzheimer’s is a disease that is incurable and irreversible, but the treatment can prove helpful in managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
From the various types of brain waves, gamma waves become weaker in Alzheimer’s patients compared to other healthy brains.
2. Depression and anxiety
Depression and anxiety are the common mental health issues recorded.
Depression is a state of mind where the person focuses mainly on negative emotions that affect his mind and body in the long run. Anxiety is a part of depression where the stress levels are maximized. These issues can be self-treated, or one can visit a therapist.
The effect of these mental state issues on the brain is that the brainwave frequencies change. Among brain waves, beta waves increase in the frontal part of the brain, while alpha and theta waves tend to decrease in the brain.
Epilepsy is a disorder where seizures are caused due to disturbance in neural activity of the brain. This can be a genetic disorder or acquired due to some trauma or stroke.
In the brain, all the different types of brain waves get imbalanced, resulting in recurrent seizures. The sudden release of electric energy from neurons due to recurrent episodes can affect a person’s conscience. It also restricts movements and sensations.
Brain disorders also affect the simultaneous processing of brain waves and neural functions. These types of brain waves are mysteriously magical yet scientifically proven. Different frequencies in the brain waves tend to activate different consciousness of the brain, which is phenomenal.
Hopefully, this article gave you a little insight into the mysterious workings of the brain and its magical features.
While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students.
Do note that any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.