All right life lovers, it's time for a little nerdage. Our mental state is typically base around brain wave activity. A brainwave is simply a pattern of neuron activity and is measured with an electroencephalogram or EEG, via electrodes attached to the scalp. Brainwaves run in several frequency bands which are measured in Hertz (Hz) band has been linked to a variety of cognizant and subconscious activities: Gamma (27 to 100 Hz), Beta (12 to 27 Hz), Alpha (8 to 12 Hz), Theta (3 to 8 Hz), Delta, (0.2 to 3 Hz)
In order to make use of this neuroscientists sometimes use what's called brainwave entrainment. Also referred to as brainwave synchronization, brainwave entrainment is term used to describe the brain’s ability to naturally synchronize its brainwaves with audible, visual, or tactile stimuli. Brainwave entrainment is used to induce various states of brain activity, such as relaxation or sleep, by simulating specific wave rhythms associated with a particular brainwave frequency.
Human beings generally have a difficult time hearing below 20 Hz, so to emulate most of these frequencies we employ what’s known as binaural beats. A binaural beat is created by two tones being played simultaneously with less than a 40 Hz difference between their frequencies. The tones are played dichotically, which is a fancy way of saying one through each ear. For example, if a 530 Hz pure tone is presented to a person’s right ear, and a 520 Hz pure tone is going into their left ear, the listener’s brain will perceive a third tone at 10 Hz.
Now that we’ve explained a bit of the science, Lets talk about how to make it work for you. Lets take a look at what each of these frequencies do for a human brain.
Gamma waves are the highest frequency waves and have been linked to cognitive function, attention and memory. During a 6 week peer reviewed study involving 30 students ages 6-16, Dr. Ruth Olmstead saw significant increases in information processing speed, visual motor coordination, focus, visual short-term memory, arithmetic and sequencing ability. In another study using light based stimulation, Dr. David Noton found that gamma wave stimulation also helped to decrease the likelihood of migraines in 53% of patients who suffered from chronic migraines.
Beta waves are the baseline waves of person who is fully awake. Beta wave activity is linked to proper mental function, alertness and problem solving. Four separate studies showed that beta wave stimulation created increases in verbal/ reading skills, focus and overall academic achievement as well as a decrease in fatigue.
Alpha waves are found at the border between alert and relaxed mental states. An experiment conducted in 2006, had 20 out of 40 patients alpha stimulation for 25 minutes, in addition to the usual meds before undergoing an endoscopy. Eighteen of those twenty reported feeling less discomfort. Similar experiments were conducted to test the effect of alpha waves in regards to stress reduction with positive results as well. There have also been studies that showed alpha waves can improve memory.
Theta waves are associated with relaxation and light sleep. This is one of the most common frequencies used in meditation music. To be clear usually people identify the frequency of the tone when they post these tracks on Youtube rather than the binaural frequency so you’ll often see them say that the track plays at around 482 Hz. In any case, theta waves have been shown to help reduce anxiety. In 2001, a study performed with 15 mildly anxious patients revealed a decrease in their anxiety ratings by an average of 19 points.
Delta waves are the lowest frequency brainwaves and are linked with deep sleep. The delta wave is the brain at rest and is the purest expression of mental relaxation. A study in 1985 showed that 14 out of 15 patients suffering acute muscle contraction headaches were cured after 5 minutes of delta wave stimulation. A month long study showed that out of 49 participants, 58% showed increase quality of sleep and fatigue reduction. Delta waves also have anxiety reduction effects more potent than theta waves.
There are a few sub-bands inside these frequencies that have more specific effects as well, but they all center around these five mental states. Meditation music often times will employ binaural beats to aid in relaxation or sleep and here at Yagoli, we’re working to provide that as well. We’re currently working on an album of brainwave entrainment programs and so far have produced two: Tranquil Storm and Insightful Seclusion which are designed for sleep and memory respectively. Both tracks are available for preview on Soundcloud so click here to check them out. We’ll be releasing more music in the near future so make sure you subscribe to Yagoli for releases and discounts.