About Brainwave Entrainment
Brainwave Entrainment is any process that aims to cause brainwave frequencies to synchronize with a periodic stimulus (sound or light) having a frequency corresponding to the intended brain-state. The desired state can be achieved much faster than traditional meditation, which for most people is time-consuming and requires dedication and patience
It depends upon a frequency following response, a naturally occurring phenomenon where the human brain has a tendency to change its dominant EEG frequency towards the frequency of a dominant external stimulus.
The 4 most common brainwaves are Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta. Although all 4 brainwaves are active in the brain at all times, one of these patterns is usually dominant depending on whether you are busy, emotional, relaxing, sleeping etc. Your dominant brainwave pattern is responsible for your state of awareness at any given moment.
Our brain’s ability to become flexible and transition through various brainwave frequencies plays a large role in how successful we are at managing stress, focusing on tasks, and getting a good night’s sleep. Each serves a purpose to help us cope with various situations – whether it is to help us process and learn new information or help us calm down after a long stressful day.
The 5 types of brainwaves are categorised as follows:
Gamma (30 to 100 Hz)
Gamma waves largely play a supporting though integral role in the brain. From an EEG point of view, they will be present mostly while a subject is awake, but they will always be supported by other waves in the Beta, Alpha, Theta, or Delta ranges.
They are involved in higher processing tasks as well as cognitive functioning. Gamma waves are important for learning, memory and information processing. It is thought that the 40 Hz gamma wave is important for the binding of our senses in regards to perception and are involved in learning new material.
They have been noted during Buddhist meditation of compassion & music listening experiments.
Beta (13 to 30Hz)
These are commonly observed while we are alert and awake. They are involved in conscious thought, logical thinking, and tend to have a stimulating affect. Having the right amount of beta waves allows us to focus and complete school or work-based tasks easily. Having too much beta may lead to us experiencing excessive stress and/or anxiety. These are the fast brain waves that most people exhibit throughout the day in order to complete conscious tasks such as: critical thinking, problem solving, writing, reading, and socialization.
Alpha (8 to 12Hz)
When we begin to relax or to get drowsy, but are still awake and conscious we are at the Alpha level. This frequency range bridges the gap between our conscious thinking and subconscious mind. It helps us calm down when necessary and promotes feelings of deep relaxation. They are correlated with a generally tranquil, pleasant, almost floating feeling and are considered as the brainwaves of meditation. Alpha brainwave levels are found to be much higher in artists, musicians, and creative thinkers. If we become stressed, a phenomenon called “Alpha blocking” may occur which involves excessive Beta activity and very little Alpha.
Theta (4 to 8 Hz)
This frequency range is involved in daydreaming, dreams, deep meditation, hypnosis and stage 1 sleep. Theta waves are connected to us experiencing and feeling deep and raw emotions. Anytime you feel like you’re “in the zone”, you are in a Theta state. Theta has its benefits of helping improve our intuition, creativity and makes us feel more natural. Higher than average levels of Theta brainwaves are often found in highly creative individuals. They are also linked to the mechanisms of learning and memory and are involved in restorative sleep.
Delta (0.5 to 4 Hz)
These are the slowest recorded brain waves and are generated in dreamless sleep and deepest meditation. They are found most often in infants as well as young children. As we age, we tend to produce less delta even during deep sleep. They are associated with the deepest levels of relaxation and restorative, healing sleep. They have also been found to be involved in unconscious bodily functions such as regulating heart beat, digestion and the production of growth and anti-aging hormones. Adequate production of delta waves helps us feel completely rejuvenated after we wake up from a good night’s sleep.
If you are interested in researching more about studies into brainwave entrainment there are a number of scientific papers here
The difference between Binaural Beats and Isochronic Tones
Binaural Beats work by playing a pure sine wave with a different frequency to the left and right channels. For example, if 200 Hz was played in one ear and 210 in the other, then the binaural beat would have an Alpha frequency of 10 Hz.
The brain produces a phenomenon where the combined simultaneous effect of these two frequencies produces an audible pulsating beat when listened to through headphones. The sensation of binaural beats is believed to originate in the superior olivary nucleus, the site where the electrical pulses of each ear meet.
- Binaural beats are created inside the head. Requires listening with headphones for the effect to work
- They are not effective above 30 Hz. The difference between the two frequencies must be small (less than or equal to 30 Hz) for the effect to occur; otherwise, the two tones will be heard separately, and no beat will be perceived. For Gamma entrainment use isoschronic tones.
- The frequencies of the tones must be below 1,000 Hz for the beating to be noticeable.
- Are considered more pleasant to listen to than Isochronic Tones and are hypnotic in nature.
- The volume of the binaural beats only needs to be just audible above the background sounds to be effective.
Isochronic Tones work by emitting sound as a beat at the interval of the desired frequency. For example, to produce 10 Hz Alpha entrainment 10 beats will be produced each second. The sound is typically a sine wave but any continuous sound can be used. In addition to a sine wave Neuro Sequencer allows you to apply Isochronic modulation to any sound with a variable amount and to modify the Isochronic modulation shape from Sine to Square.
- Can be listened to using speakers or headphones, although the effect is more pronounced with headphones.
- Are considered to be more effective at creating entrainment.
- May not be considered as relaxing to listen to as binaural beats.
- Are not effective below 4 Hz. For Delta entrainment use binaural beats.
When the current brains state is close to the starting frequency entrainment works more efficiently. When you close your eyes and are relaxed your brain will naturally fall into the Alpha state so you could use a starting frequency of around 12 Hz. When the brain has tuned to the starting entrainment frequency it is then easier to move to another frequency range.