Brainwaves and computer impulses have similarities: –
A computer works by passing electrical impulses through a series of components, including computer chips, that pass on information using the Binary code –
– what that means is that an electrical impulse is either “On” or “Off” – (or sometimes one voltage going through it or a different voltage going through it).
If the electrical impulse is a low voltage or is “off”; – then that signifies the number 0
And if the impulse is a higher voltage or is “on”; – then that signifies the number 1
In the Binary System, using combination of 0 and 1 – any sort of information can be created, transmitted, stored or utilized -in the form that is used in our computers.
The Binary System is very efficient, but a little difficult for the average person to understand well – so I am not going to go into further details about how it works here.
I only mention it so we can compare a computer and the brain – so you can better understand how it works.
The power of a computer is directly linked to the number of electrical pathways or connections, and therefore this also limits it – as it is extremely hard to make thousands of connections in a very small space.
And how it works is that each one behaves in the same On or Off Binary Code way as do computers.
This therefore makes a brain way more complex than the biggest of the world’s computers, and because of this – makes it difficult for us to understand exactly what is going on in the brain at any particular time, and therefore how it works.
However, using the medical machines that I mentioned above, we are beginning to get a better understanding.
I will explain this further –
An EEG machine (Electro-Encephalo-Graph) – is used to measure the electrical activity coming from the brain – by placing many electrodes (usually 32) over the scalp – and it can display the results either on a screen, or more commonly, on a paper recording.
It has been found that the brain has continuous electrical activity that occurs in a sort of “wave” form – with the speed and size of these waves meaning different things.
How it works is that these wave patterns have been given names that are taken from the Greek alphabet – Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Theta –
– and it has been found that each one corresponds to a particular mental and/or physical state – let’s look quickly at each in turn;-
Alpha brainwaves are seen to be at a speed of between 8 and 12 per second, and they occur in someone who is relaxed, calm yet mentally alert, and also when we are “daydreaming” – they are also typically found in light meditation or light hypnosis. This is what it looks like on an EEG tracing;-
Beta brainwaves are between 12 and 30 per second, they often show big and small waves on the same tracing, and are associated with intense concentration, busy thinking and problem solving. (Curiously they are also seen with some kinds of prescription sleep medications – especially those called Benzodiazepines – most of which have names that end with “…epam”) – here’s what they look like;-
Delta brainwaves are much slower – between 0.5 and 4 per second – they are found in deep sleep or other states of unconsciousness, and also often found in young children (which I find very interesting !) – here’s what Delta waves look like;-
Gamma brainwaves are much faster – between about 30 and 120 per second, and kind of as you would expect – they are found with high power mental activity, problem solving and also in fear states and are also involved with consciousness – they are also increased in meditation – ( especially with very experienced meditators, curiously – it is thought that Gamma waves have an integration effect by causing groups of neurons to synchronize) – here’s an example;-
Theta brainwaves are in the 4 to 8 per second range, and are found very commonly in children, teenagers and some young adults – they occur when we are in a drowsy, relaxed, daydreaming, relaxed or tranquil state – like when we are just waking up, or just about to fall asleep – normally very positive and enjoyable states. Theta waves are also found in deep meditation and deep hypnosis. These waves look like this;-
It is not essential for you to remember all the details of the EEG, and how it works – but I felt that you would find them interesting !