The Science

 

You and Your Brainwaves - The Basics

As a therapeutic tool, one of the functions of SmartSound™ is to help modulate brainwave patterns in order to assist with deep relaxation, stress/anxiety reduction, sleep and so on.

The study of brainwaves and related phenomena remains very much a work in progress for neuroscientists.

However, we've summarised some basic principles below, in part to help explain how SmartSound™ technologies may offer various forms of assistance.  

 

What are brainwaves?

Brainwaves are basically your neurons communicating. They occur throughout the brain as rhythmic waves of synchronised electrical activity. Different brainwaves (and combinations thereof) correlate to particular physiological processes and states of consciousness, from deep dreamless sleep to heightened focus and awareness.

Brainwave frequencies are identified by their bandwidth (in Hertz or cycles per second) and can be measured using an electroencephalogram (EEG). You can see one of our EGG 'brain maps' elsewhere on this site. 

In descending order - fastest to slowest - your major brainwave frequencies are gamma, beta, sensorimotor rhythms (SMR), alpha, theta, delta and sub-delta. (For more information see 'Brainwave Frequencies and Effects').

Although one bandwidth may be dominant at any given time - such as delta during deep sleep, this incredibly complex system involves constant interplays between frequencies (including 'coupling' where one rhythm nests within another) and many other processes not yet fully understood by researchers.

 

Dominant brainwaves and states of consciousness

Like a vast polyrhythmic orchestra, your brain is constantly producing different 'suites' or combinations of brainwave frequencies and patterns. Those that are dominant at any given time will be indicative of your state of consciousness and produce a characteristic 'signature' or physiological effect.

For example, brainwave patterns associated with stress, panic or anxiety conditions often correlate with high-range beta frequencies and the production of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, accelerated heart and breathing rates and other fight-flight-freeze phenomena.  While potentially lifesaving in an emergency, this kind of survival response can severely impact our health and wellbeing if chronic and unresolved.

Conversely, when you're feeling calm but mentally clear and alert, such as may be the case in the upper alpha range, your brainwave patterns tend to be much more coherent, resulting in optimal heart and breathing rates and so on.

 

Neuroplasticity and brainwaves

The brain of course is now known to be neuroplastic - capable of changing and adapting throughout life. And while brainwave patterns have been shown to alter over time as a result of practices such as long-term meditation or repetitive exposure to certain stimuli, they can also be temporarily influenced and altered (to a greater or lesser degree) by your thoughts and emotions, exercise, nutrition, pharmaceuticals, technology and so on.

A simple example is the caffeine in your coffee, a stimulant known to temporarily boost beta brainwaves and therefore, alertness. One study found that even eating certain nuts on a regular basis can strengthen brainwave frequencies associated with cognition, learning, healing, memory and other key brain functions.

And of course, the maladaptive (as opposed to beneficial) neuroplastic changes caused by chronic stress, depression, anxiety and other conditions are now well documented.

The point here is that your brainwave patterns can be influenced and altered to varying degrees by a great many different things, including technologies like SmartSound™. 

 

Brainwaves can get ‘stuck' and 'out of balance’

Unfortunately, the ability to access optimal brainwave patterns for a given task or situation is not always as easy or automatic as it should be. Problematic brainwave patterns can become 'hardwired' as the default and highly resistant to change due to long term conditioning and habituation, trauma and so on.

Not surprisingly, being 'stuck in the wrong gear' at any given time (neurological dysregulation) can greatly impact your day to day wellbeing and performance.

Those with ADHD for example, often produce counterproductive slow wave patterns when faced with tasks requiring concentration which would normally involve beta activity. To help counter this, and excessive diurnal slow wave activity in general, they may be prescribed Ritalin or other stimulant medications known to encourage faster, beta brainwave activity.

Depression is also often associated with abnormal slow wave production, especially during the day - resulting in a lack of motivation and energy amongst other things. Clinical sound research suggests that one way to help alleviate depression is to counter slow wave production by exposing the brain to faster frequencies such as beta 1 or 2 during the day. And, as you'll read in 'Brainwave Frequencies and Effects', both alpha and gamma stimulation have also proven helpful.

Conversely, for those with insomnia or other sleep onset issues, there's often a problem 'shifting down' from fast, alert beta brainwave activity (and its accompanying 'mind chatter'), at bedtime. Clinical studies suggest such conditions may be assisted by inducing the slower 'sleep' frequencies of alpha, theta and delta at or around bedtime - supplemented by exposure to beta or SMR stimulation during the day to assist with alertness and concentration.

 

We hope these examples have helped you understand some of the basic principles involved in 'brainwave management'. Better still, why not have a direct experience by trying our FREE 'Mini-D-Stress' session!

 

 

         SmartSound™

Hearing is Believing!

 

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