Brain Wave Frequencies

by | Jan 10, 2024 | Articles, Conditions, Neurologic, Uncategorized

Brain cells communicate via electrical signals, which occur at different frequencies.  These frequencies are what we refer to as “brainwaves” and are associated with very specific brain activity.

0-3 Delta – Sleep

Delta waves are the slowest and highest-amplitude brain waves observed in humans and are most commonly associated with deep sleep stages, particularly slow-wave sleep (SWS).  Key characteristics and functions of delta brain waves include:

  1. Deep Sleep and Restorative Processes: Delta waves are most prominent during deep sleep stages, such as stage 3 non-REM sleep. During these stages, the brain undergoes restorative processes, including tissue repair, hormone release, and memory consolidation. Delta activity is thought to play a crucial role in facilitating these restorative functions.
  2. Physical Healing and Growth: Delta waves have been linked to physical healing and growth processes. During deep sleep, the body releases growth hormone, which is important for tissue repair, muscle growth, and overall physical health. Delta activity may facilitate the release of growth hormone and support these physiological processes.
  3. Immune Function: Some research suggests that delta waves may be involved in regulating immune function. Deep sleep stages, characterized by prominent delta activity, are thought to be important for maintaining a healthy immune system and defending against infections and illnesses.
  4. Emotional Processing and Regulation: Delta waves may also play a role in emotional processing and regulation. Sleep disturbances or disruptions in delta activity have been associated with mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Deep sleep stages, characterized by delta activity, are important for emotional well-being and stress regulation.
  5. Memory Consolidation: Delta waves are believed to play a role in memory consolidation, particularly for declarative memory (facts and events). During deep sleep, the brain processes and consolidates information acquired during wakefulness, leading to long-term memory storage.
  • generalized delta can also be related to poor blood supply and hypo-oxygenation, poor brain maturation or dissociation
  • a spike of delta in one site or some contiguous sites, it can be an indicator of a lesion
  • temporal a brain that is not very alert
  • frontal low levels of concentration, focus, attention and awareness
  • hyper-coherent delta is indicative of a closed head trauma
  • hypo-coherent delta usually accompanies learning disorders

3 Crossover –  Emotional reactivity

  • abreactions–re-experiencing of old traumatic material–takes place here
  • very internal state, sometimes even a dissociative place, where contact with the environment is pretty minimal

4-7 Theta – Tired

Theta waves are most commonly observed during states of drowsiness, light sleep, deep relaxation, meditation, and certain stages of the sleep cycle, particularly during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.  Key characteristics and functions of theta brain waves include:

  1. Relaxation and Meditation: Theta waves are associated with states of deep relaxation and meditation. They are often observed when you’re in a state of calmness, mindfulness, or deep relaxation, such as during meditation or deep breathing exercises.
  2. Enhanced Creativity and Intuition: Theta waves have been linked to increased creativity, insight, and intuition. They are often observed during periods of creative thinking, problem-solving, and artistic expression. Some research suggests that theta waves may facilitate the integration of ideas and the generation of novel solutions.
  3. Memory Formation and Learning: Theta waves play a role in memory formation and learning. They are often observed during tasks that involve encoding and retrieving information, such as studying, learning new skills, or recalling memories. Theta activity may facilitate the consolidation of information into long-term memory.
  4. Dreaming and REM Sleep: Theta waves are prominent during REM sleep, a stage of the sleep cycle associated with vivid dreaming and rapid eye movements. They are believed to play a role in the processing and consolidation of emotional experiences, memory consolidation, and the integration of new information acquired during wakefulness.
  5. Emotional Processing: Theta waves may also be involved in emotional processing and regulation. They are often observed during states of emotional arousal, relaxation, and self-reflection.
  • 3-6 Dissociative, eg abuse victims
  • 5 Cognitive reactivity, eg learning problems, dyslexia – trauma frequency
  • 6-8 memory, visualization and access to the subconscious.
  • 7 Hippocampal, memory, visualization
  • 7 is the Universe frequency, or the Schumann frequency
  • alpha/theta training – clients tend to have visual images of old memory material, but it takes place without the client actually re-experiencing or abreacting that material
  • visual frequency in general (or at least a non-language processing frequency), so any task, like watching a movie, playing a video game, taking something apart and remembering how to put it back together, etc.
  • anything that moves a person into their head and out of contact with the environment will increase theta. 

8-12 Alpha – Relaxed

Alpha waves are most prominent when you are awake but in a relaxed and calm state, such as when you’re sitting quietly, closing your eyes, or in a state of meditation and are associated with:

  1. Relaxation and Calmness: Alpha waves are associated with states of relaxation and calmness. When you’re feeling relaxed and at ease, your brain tends to produce more alpha activity.
  2. Increased Creativity: Some research suggests that alpha waves may be associated with increased creativity. They have been observed during periods of creative ideation and insight, suggesting a role in facilitating creative thinking.
  3. Enhanced Learning and Memory: Alpha waves have been linked to states of enhanced learning and memory consolidation. They are often observed during tasks that involve focused attention and information processing, such as studying or learning new material.
  4. Mindfulness and Meditation: Alpha waves are commonly observed during meditation and mindfulness practices. They are thought to reflect a state of relaxed alertness and present-moment awareness often cultivated during these practices.
  5. Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Higher levels of alpha activity have been associated with reduced levels of stress and anxiety. Practicing relaxation techniques or mindfulness meditation may increase alpha wave activity, leading to feelings of calmness and emotional well-being.
  • bridge between conscious (beta) and subconscious (theta)
  • people who don’t produce effective alpha are usually locked on one side or the other of the divide between conscious and subconscious state
  • theta processors get the ADD label because they have difficulty with the logical-rational language-based sequential processing states related to beta
  • beta processors are often locked away from their feelings and deeper memories
  • the ability to get into the alpha observer state allows one to consciously be aware of feelings.
  • 10 should be highest

12-15 (mu) SMR – Sensorimotor Rhythm

  • associated with states of focused attention, relaxation, and sensorimotor integration
  • linked to motor planning and execution, as well as sensory perception and integration

13-30 Beta – Alert

Beta waves are associated with various cognitive and active mental states, including:

  1. Alertness and Active Thinking: Beta waves are often present when you are awake and engaged in active mental tasks. They are associated with states of alertness, focused attention, and active thinking. For example, when you’re problem-solving, making decisions, or concentrating on a task, you’re likely to have higher levels of beta activity.
  2. Motor Movement: Beta waves are also associated with voluntary muscle movements. When you’re engaged in activities that require physical movement, such as walking, typing, or speaking, beta waves in the motor cortex of the brain increase.
  3. Anxiety and Stress: Elevated beta wave activity, particularly in the higher end of the beta range (around 20-30 Hz), has been associated with states of anxiety and stress. Excessive beta activity in these frequencies may contribute to feelings of restlessness, nervousness, or unease.
  4. Problem-Solving and Decision-Making: Beta waves are often observed during tasks that require problem-solving, decision-making, and cognitive processing. They play a role in coordinating neural activity across different brain regions involved in higher cognitive functions.
  • 13-15 Low Beta/SMR
  • 15-22 Beta intense focus, curiosity and engagement – or anxious and obsessive
  • 21 Aura frequency
  • 23-38 High Beta Worry frequency, rumination, anxiety, pressure.

30-100 Gamma – Aware

They are one of the fastest types of brain waves and are associated with various cognitive processes, including:

  1. Higher cognitive functions: Gamma waves are believed to be involved in complex cognitive processes such as memory formation, learning, problem-solving, and information processing. They are thought to facilitate the binding of different sensory inputs and cognitive elements into coherent perceptions and thoughts.
  2. Attention and focus: Gamma waves have been linked to states of focused attention and heightened mental alertness. They may play a role in enhancing the processing of sensory information and promoting concentration on specific tasks.
  3. Consciousness and perception: Some research suggests that gamma waves are associated with states of consciousness and may play a role in the experience of sensory perception, including visual perception. They are believed to be involved in the synchronization of neural activity across different brain regions, contributing to the integration of sensory information and the formation of conscious experience.
  4. Memory and learning: Gamma waves have been observed during tasks requiring memory encoding and retrieval, suggesting a role in memory formation and consolidation. They may facilitate the coordination of neural networks involved in storing and retrieving information.


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