Beta Wave Basics, Part 2

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Welcome back! Last weeks blog entry, Beta Wave Basics, Part 1 focused on the basics of beta waves, including what they are, how they are reflected in an EEG, and how knowing about them may be relevant to your life. This week, the conversation will continue as we discuss the different types of beta wave frequencies, potential symptoms associated with these frequencies, and how neurofeedback may be a great option to relieve symptoms and achieve optimal brain health.

Because beta waves have a wide range in frequency (from approximately 14 hertz to 30 hertz), individuals may experience different states of mind during different frequencies. For example, an individual who has a lower beta wave frequency may experience alertness, clear thinking, and/or creative thinking. The lower frequencies within beta waves are close to alpha waves (approximately 8 hertz to 13.9 hertz). Remember, individuals whose brain activity reflects alpha waves are in states of deep relaxation. Therefore, the closer an individual’s brain activity is at a frequency around 13.9 hertz, the more alert and clear his or her thinking will be.

On the other end of the spectrum, an individual who has a higher beta wave frequency may experience restlessness, anxiety, stress, and/or panic. The higher the frequency, the more your brain is working to rapidly send signals to other parts of the body. It takes a lot of energy from the brain to maintain these higher brain wave frequencies because the brain is doing more than it would in a relaxed state. As a result, it can negatively affect an individual’s health, as seen in the potential symptoms previously listed. Furthermore, a brain that is consistently in a high frequency state creates an imbalance in the system as the brain may be overexerting itself. This, too, can create issues in an individual’s physical and/or emotional health. The more stress the brain is under, or the longer it maintains a high frequency, the more it releases a stress hormone called cortisol. Recent studies on cortisol have revealed that chronic stress and high cortisol levels can have multiple negative effects on the brain.

As previously mentioned, an individual’s type of activity level or emotional state may affect an individual’s brain frequency, which can then lead to multiple symptoms. An individual whose brain activity is in a state of low frequency within beta waves may experience deficiencies in attention, issues with sleep (including difficulty falling or maintaining sleep), chronic pain, or may experience various types of depression. An individual whose brain activity is in a state of high frequency within beta waves may experience issues in sleep (including nightmares), aggression or anger, anxiety, or impulsivity. An individual who experiences a combination of both low and high frequencies throughout the day may have symptoms associated with depression, ADHD, and anxiety.

It may help to think about beta waves and its effects on the system in terms of drinking coffee. Think about what happens when you first wake up in the morning. You may be unable to focus, you may be feeling down, or you may be experiencing pain, just like it you were in a lower beta state. You decide that in order to become more alert you will have your morning coffee. You begin to have more energy and are now able to concentrate on tasks, such as if you were in an average beta state. However, if you have too much coffee, or your beta frequency is too high, your thoughts may become disorganized and you may have difficulty staying alert; in fact, you may experience symptoms associated with panic, such as a rapid heartbeat. Beta waves act like coffee -- it’s important to be at an optimal level in order to function, but too much or too little can result in negative effects on the body and mind.

Neurofeedback helps relieve individuals of their symptoms via training the brain to self-regulate. When an individual is engaged in neurofeedback, whether watching a movie or playing a game, the electrodes on the individual’s scalp are monitoring beta waves. The treatment utilizes a reward system: when the brainwave frequency is in a relaxed state, it is rewarded via the screen appearing “normal”. When the brain wave frequency moves out of its window of tolerance (or peaceful state), the screen will alter forcing the brain to modify its patterns in order to get to that reward state, or to the brain’s optimal level. The more neurofeedback sessions an individual has, the longer the brain stays in an optimal state, and therefore, the brain learns how to self-regulate its system. It is perfectly normal for the brain to continue to experience inhibition as the beta wave frequencies will naturally alter depending on an individual’s activity and emotional state.

Through neurofeedback an individual can reduce problematic symptoms associated with low or high frequency beta waves and achieve optimal brain health.

Check out our website for more information on neurofeedback and its therapeutic applications. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment or would like to consult with a neurofeedback technician, feel free to contact us. Tune back next week to read about how the adolescent brain differs from the adult brain.

Beta Wave Basics, Part 1

If you have done any independent research on neurofeedback, you may have come across the following terms: “beta waves,” “alpha waves,” and “theta waves.” You may also be wondering what these waves even mean, what they are, and what they have to do with neurofeedback. This entry will look to focus specifically on beta waves and its relationship to neurofeedback. If you would like more information on “alpha waves” and “theta waves,” check out our blog entry on Alpha-Theta Training.

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As described in a previous blog entry What Exactly IS Neurofeedback, part of the process of neurofeedback is to utilize an EEG to monitor brain activity. The EEG will produce a picture of an individual’s brain activity via what looks like squiggly lines. These lines are in fact an individual’s brain waves. Every second of every day, millions of cells, or neurons, in the brain are communicating to one another simultaneously via electrical signals. It is these signals that make up the picture in an EEG as the device measures an individual’s electrical activity in the brain. Each electric wave, or brain wave, emits an electrochemical impulse. These impulses alter in frequency and each frequency is referred to as a different type of brain wave. Beta waves, for instance, are brain waves with a frequency ranging from approximately 14 hertz to 30 hertz while alpha waves have a frequency ranging from approximately 8 hertz to 13.9 hertz. A brain’s frequency will vary depending on brain activity.

For the purposes of neurofeedback, you can think about brain waves in terms of one’s state of mind. When an individual is engaged in an activity that requires paying attention, utilizing logic, or engaging in analytical thinking, such as at work or school, the brain is using beta waves. When an individual is in a state of pure relaxation, such as during meditation or yoga, the brain is using alpha waves. These waves reflect activities that a person engages in on a daily basis. Both activities and emotional states can change or alter a person’s brain waves. Due to typically busy (and often stressful) lifestyles, individuals’ brain frequency is within the range of beta waves for the majority of the day.

Now that you know the basics behind beta waves, hopefully you have a better understanding of the role beta waves have in your everyday life. To learn more about the frequency of beta waves and how that may be related to current problematic symptoms, tune back to our blog next week! We will also be discussing how neurofeedback may be the solution to these problematic symptoms.

Be sure to stay informed and to learn more information on neurofeedback and its therapeutic applications. Schedule an appointment or contact us if you would like to consult with a neurofeedback technician. See you next week!

Alpha-Theta Training

Most people know the benefits of massages. In addition to relieving physical tension and pain, massages can reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, and more. What if we told you that neurofeedback can provide you with similar benefits, essentially giving your brain a relaxing "massage"? Alpha-Theta training, a form of neurofeedback, can provide you with the relief that you have been looking for!

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Unresolved traumatic experiences, fears, and habits can trigger uncomfortable feelings and behaviors in many people. Alpha-Theta training targets these specific issues by allowing you to enjoy a deeply relaxed state, physically and mentally. While in this deeply relaxed state, traumatic memories can be safely processed, consciously or unconsciously. After Alpha-Theta training, these memories can be recalled without leading to uncomfortable feelings and behaviors.

Alpha-Theta training is typically introduced after ten sessions of infra-low frequency training have taken place. This gives you ample time to become familiar with the neurofeedback process. Once Alpha-Theta training has been introduced, you may continue to do some infra-low frequency training. Infra-low frequency training provides the initial physical calming and stabilization, while Alpha-Theta training provides you with the opportunity to process unresolved traumatic experiences.

When a person receives a massage, they are encouraged to close their eyes, listen to soothing music, and relax. During Alpha-Theta training, you will be encouraged to rest in a comfortable chair that reclines, and will be given an eye mask and headphones in order to block out external visual and auditory distractions. Calming sounds will be played through the headphones and will change as the brain sinks into a deeper state of relaxation. Over the course of thirty minutes, you may experience varying levels of relaxation as unprocessed memories rise to the surface. The desired effect of Alpha-Theta training is to leave you feeling deeply relaxed, refreshed, and alert.

What New Year's resolutions have you made? Let us help you achieve your goals by training your brain for optimal health and performance! Learn more about neurofeedback, or contact us today to set up an appointment!