One of the big mysteries in the brain is something called 'brain waves.' These are like the brain's musical rhythms, and they play a big role in how we see, feel, and experience the world. In this blog, we're going to take a trip to learn about the different kinds of brain waves. We'll make it easy to understand, so you can get a good start on this subject.
What are brain waves?
Brain waves, or neural oscillations, are the rhythmic patterns of electrical activity generated by synchronized firing of neurons in the brain. These electrical signals can be measured and recorded using electroencephalography (EEG). The range of brain wave frequencies reflects the brain's diverse states and functions.
Types of brain waves:
- Beta Waves (12-30 Hz) - Beta waves are associated with alertness, active thinking, and problem-solving. When you're fully awake and engaged in tasks that require concentration, your brain predominantly produces beta waves. They have a relatively high frequency and lower amplitude.
- Alpha Waves (8-12 Hz) - Alpha waves are often seen during states of relaxation. When you're daydreaming, meditating, or taking a break, your brain tends to generate alpha waves. These waves are linked to a calm and peaceful mental state, and they have a moderate frequency and amplitude.
- Theta Waves (4-8 Hz) - Theta waves appear when you're in a deeply relaxed or meditative state, just before falling asleep or waking up. They are associated with creativity, intuition, and the retrieval of deep-seated memories. Theta waves play a role in facilitating insight and problem-solving.
- Delta Waves (0.5-4 Hz) - Delta waves have the slowest frequency and the highest amplitude. They are prevalent during deep sleep stages, particularly dreamless sleep and slow-wave sleep (SWS). During these stages, the brain undergoes restorative processes, memory consolidation, and rejuvenation.
- Gamma Waves (30-100 Hz) - Gamma waves are the fastest and have the highest frequency. They are associated with high-level cognitive functions like perception, problem-solving, and conscious awareness. Researchers believe gamma waves are involved in binding information from different brain regions.
Brain waves’ applications and implications
Understanding brain waves has far-reaching implications in various fields:
- Cognitive Enhancement: Some studies suggest that manipulating brain waves can enhance memory, creativity, and problem-solving skills;
- Mental Health: Irregularities in brain wave patterns have been linked to mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and epilepsy. Monitoring and modulating brain waves hold promise for therapeutic interventions;
- Neurofeedback: Neurofeedback therapy uses real-time monitoring of brain waves to help individuals regulate their mental states, offering potential benefits for mental health and performance;
- Sleep Science: Delta and theta waves are central to understanding sleep, dreaming, and sleep disorders, providing insights into improving sleep quality.
Light therapy to modulate brain waves
Scientists have created a method that uses light to control brain waves. This creates new opportunities for exploring potential treatments for conditions like epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, and migraines. 
In a study from 2021, scientists examined how flashing red light at a rate of 10 times per second affected the human brain. They used electroencephalograph (EEG) to check the brain's activity. The results were quite good, especially for alpha and theta brain waves. The researchers think that if they use more of the light (or flash it faster), it might also help with other brain waves that make us more awake, and other waves that help us relax and sleep.
An example of a device in this realm is the Neuradiant 1070 from Neuronic. This transcranial photobiomodulation device incorporates 1070nm LEDs and offers 4 quadrant control for tailored stimulation which can result in increased energy, cellular repair, preventing future damage and promoting neural network regeneration.
Newcastle University. 2022. Using Light Stimulation to Modulate Brain Waves. Available Online: https://neurosciencenews.com/light-brain-stimulation-21686/
Science Direct. 2016. Brain Waves. Available Online: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/brain-waves
Shan, Y.S., Fang, W., et.al. 2021. Effect of Near-Infrared Pulsed Light on the Human Brain Using Electroencephalography. Available Online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7954620/