Our brain is made up of a complex cellular network of around 86 billion neurons, surrounded by even more neuroglia cells (cells that support the neurons). Each neuron is connected to around 10,000 neighboring neurons, with multiple points of connection between each pair. These connection points are called synapses. It is estimated that a signal neuron will have around 1 trillion synaptic connections with its 10 thousand neighbors.
Messages from neuron to neuron are sent via an electrochemical signals. The signal from one neuron to another is too small to detect, but when there are synchronised electrical pulses from groups of neurons, a detectable brainwave is produced. Brainwaves are used to communicate our thoughts, emotions and behaviours throughout the brain. An EEG can detect brainwaves through sensors placed on the scalp, giving us the ability to see brain function and health in real time.
Types of Brainwaves:
The human brain communicates through varying types of brainwaves. Brainwaves are classified according to their frequency, or cycles per second, measured in Hertz. Different types of brainwaves are are more dominant with certain activities or feelings.
- <.5 Hz
- Infra-Low brainwaves are the basic rhythms that underlie higher brain functions.
- 0.5 - 4 Hz
- Occur when we are asleep but not dreaming.
- It is thought that Delta waves are essential for healing and regeneration.
- 4 - 8 Hz
- Prevalent while dreaming or in deep meditation.
- Theta waves help us to learn and develop memories.
- 8 - 13 Hz
- Occur when we are physically and mentally relaxed.
- They are waves of quiet thinking, and active when we are being creative and artistic.
- Alpha waves are the gateway towards mental coordination, calmness, alertness and learning.
- 13 - 32 Hz
- Dominating our normal waking state, beta waves control alert consciousness.
- They help us with active thinking, conversation, decision making, problem solving, and focusing on the task at hand.
- 32 - 100 Hz
- Involved in rapid processing of information from different parts of the brain.
- Gamma waves are the pathway to heightened perception, and our highest mental state for learning and problem-solving.