Tell us about what your startup does in one concise sentence or statementGet Started Now
Article By T. Lamki, MD
Reprinted with permission.
When classifying brainwaves, neuroscientists describe the summation of electrical impulses between the neurons (in the brain). This simplified summary of activity indicates a “dominant” brainwave frequency, measurable using electrodes on the scalp.
Five classifications of brain wave frequencies are generally described.
Delta, alpha, beta, theta, gamma
Beta waves typically are prevalent when we are alert, thinking and actively aware of our environment. If these are dominant and uninterrupted for too long, the patient reports experiencing stress, overwhelmed, or overstimulated (hyped up) feeling.
Alpha waves tend to be the mainstay of brain activity. This seems to be the “go to” state of mind. This is the dominant wave when the patient is feeling aware of their environment, yet relaxed, creative and comfortable. This is the frequency most commonly associated associated with meditation and trancelike states. Patients also sometimes reported being in a “daydream” states.
Alpha waves have also been associated with a decrease in calcium deposition – specifically in the pineal gland - a seemingly normal process associated with aging.
Theta brain waves are associated with a decreased awareness of environment, yet activity within the brain Dash suggesting a “twilight “state of mind.
It is thought that the conscious and subconscious minds communicate during the state. Theta waves are commonly recorded during dream phases of sleeping - such as REM sleep
Gamma waves are the fastest and associated with insight, high level information processing (memory, perceptual grouping. They have also been shown to decrease the formation of beta-amyloid plaques (a hallmark of Alzheimer’s Disease) and activate microglia (cells that clear neurons of harmful substances).
Gamma waves are the rarest brain waves and are not necessarily experienced daily by the majority of patients.
Delta waves are the slowest and are traditionally associated with detached awareness and dreamless, deep sleep. During this time hormones are released, including from the pineal gland, that aid in cellular renewal, cellular repair, and regeneration. Increased delta waves activity has been found to be associated with increased immunity.
Though the research is still in its relative infancy, the implications are phenomenal. Gamma wave entrainment has recently been shown to reverse damage in neurons previously affected by Alzheimer’s. It is also been shown to reduce amyloid plaques and free amyloid through activation of microglia. Amyloid plaque accumulation is associated with different neuronal pathologies, Including Alzheimer’s disease.
This suggests, through stimulation and resultant excitation of neurons, reparative and regenerative properties are enabled.
If clinically controllable, this would suggest a novel noninvasive treatment modality for different forms of dementia and neuronal damage.
The use of sound to entrain and manipulate brainwave activity has been used for millennia. Example of this can be seen with Tibetan bowls, powwow in transit by Native Americans, shamanic inductions, and repetitive prayers used throughout different services.
Traditionally, the approach to the patient is different between eastern and western medicines. While Western medicine typically relies on hypothetical deduction and focused symptomological treatment, eastern medicine focuses on a holistic approach to the patient and a restoration of balance. This balance can be on chemical, electrical, or molecular level - as seen in homeopathy. The practical result of this can be seen in the increasingly more specialized divisions of medicine in the western world as compared to the holistic healing model used in the eastern medical practices.
One of the more obvious implications of pathological brainwave activity manifest as sleep disorders. Sleep disorders are common and are becoming seemingly more common with increased environmental stimulation, and with an increased aging population. Sleep disorders are reported enough to half of adult Americans. And common among those living with dementia and other types of diseases. Not only is lack of sleep related to cognitive decline, but exacerbates cognitive decline, decrease of function this is also suspected in the exacerbation of neurodegenerative diseases.
There are potentially many reasons for this.
On the surface, it would suggest a decrease in delta waves decreases cellular regeneration/reparation.
Using relatively common, rudimentary equipment, researchers can measure a patient’s brain with activity and monitor the effect there of of various treatments. In addition, the ongoing effect can be measured days after the treatment. That’s far, it seems that a one time treatment or exposure to different in treatment techniques provides only a temporary shift in brainwave activity. With continued, prolonged use of entrainment techniques, more permanent changes can be recorded.
Light therapy can affect sleep and cognition.
Two common techniques that have been used include: a repeating pattern, stimulating the retina, to affect the superchiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus – leading to a shift in circadian rhythm.
More recently, the application of fulgurating, flickering light (at 40 Hz) to promote gamma wave propagation.
This change in brain wave activity is known as entrainment.
Interestingly enough, not only is sleep disturbance a symptom and Alzheimer’s, but it has also been associated with the development of neurodegenerative disease. Multiple studies have shown correlations between sleep disruptions and reported cognitive decline preceding clinical manifestation of dementia. Addition, the treatment of sleep apnea seems to delay the onset of neurodegenerative disease.
Other studies have shown a correlation between sleep disruption and increase cortical accumulation of neurotoxic chemicals.
Increased cerebral oxygenation and increased pulsatile cerebrospinal fluid flow has been shown with an increase in non-REM sleep – presumably an increase in delta waves.
In conclusion, brain activity resultant resulting from increased Sims two counteract toxic accumulation as well as improving cognition, memory, etc
Other than through improved sleep, brain wave activity can be entrained through light and sound.