BRAINWAVES & BRAIN MAPPING 101
DE-CODE & OPTIMIZE YOUR BRAIN WITH CHRIS
Different brain waves are associated with different states of consciousness. Brain waves are electrical cumulative waves produced by the firing of coalitions of neurons. The rate at which neurons fire determine the brainwaves produced. Brainwaves are measured in Hertz (Hz) cycles per second. For example, if groups of neurons in the temporal cortex fire 4 times per second, it will generate a theta rhythm on the EEG.
Slow waves are essential for sleep, calm, relaxation and even memory. However excessive slow waves can cause you to feel sluggish,
cognitively slow, inattentive and be associated with depressed moods. Fast brainwaves support vigilance, engagement, critical thinking and focus but in excess can cause anxiety, stress and/or impulsive behaviour.
Delta Waves (1-4 Hz) are slow brainwaves associated with deep stage 4 sleep and unconsciousness. Deep stage delta sleep supports physical regeneration and repair in the brain and body. Simply, delta can be thought of as “first gear” in the brain. An excess of delta waves during waking states can result in learning impairments, ADHD symptoms and slowed cognition. Excessive delta can also result from brain injuries and post-concussion syndrome.
During delta wave sleep neurons are inhibited by gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the principle inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.
Theta waves (4-8 Hz) emerge during light sleep states and are associated with day-dreaming. Cortical theta is notably observed in young children as the brain learns and builds it subconscious motor patterns and mental models of the world. Theta emerges during meditative and pre-sleep states, specifically the “hypnogogic state”. The hypnogogic states is the period of time just before we fall asleep during which our thoughts become more lucid and clear. Excessive theta during waking states can cause frequent daydreaming and in-attentiveness, “mind drifting”. Excessive theta in the left hemisphere can result in deficiencies in executive function. Excessive theta in the frontal lobes is commonly observed in individuals with with attention disorders.
Memory: Theta rhythms facilitate the storage of episodic information in the hippocampus.
Theta rhythms support working memory, episodic encoding and retrieval. Specifically hippocampal Theta has been found in posterior cingulate, entorhinal cortex, hypothalamus and amygdala and is essential in memory consolidation.
Theta emerges during hypnosis and deep meditation as there is a decrease in “external awareness” and heightened internal processing. Sufficient theta supports focus. Deficiencies in frontal midline theta can be associated with anxiety and restlessness. Hence, theta levels modulate our emotional state, levels of anxiety and “relaxed” focus.
Alpha waves (8-12 Hz) dominate when we’re present “in the moment” and during meditative states. Alpha is a resting “idling” state, similar to a car idling. Alpha is a bridge between fast-wave, sympathetic dominance and para-sympathetic “rest-and-digest”. Alpha waves emerge during “flow states” such as walks in nature, running, exercising, reading a great book etc. Alpha waves support visualization, mental calm, clarity and “zen-like” focus. Alpha is critical for learning & neuroplasticity. Deficiencies in alpha are commonly observed in learning disorders and autism. Restoration of alpha rhythms tends to open up the doorways to language learning, social interaction & behavioural flexibility. Adequate alpha protects against “sensory overload”. Deficiencies in alpha, especially in the right hemisphere can cause depressed mood and withdrawal. Sufficient alpha power is important eyes closed. Excessive alpha eyes open in the frontal lobes can cause difficulties with attention & executive function.
Alpha rhythms between the cortex and thalamus (sensory relay station) regulate sensory gates.
Alpha supports internal processing and reduced external sensory overload, typically emerging during meditative and hypnotic states.
Age-related reductions in alpha can underlie cognitive decline and can reflect decreased neurological efficiency and power. Alpha bursts promote information consolidation and feedback mechanisms, thus enhancing learning.
Beta waves (12-38 Hz) dominate during waking states of consciousness when our mind is “active”, thinking, problem-solving and vigilant to the outside world. Sufficient Beta ‘fast wave‘ activity supports alertness, vigilance, attention, focus, problem-solving, decision-making and executive function. Low beta waves (12–15 Hz): “beta one” waves support “cat-like focus”, quiet calm, concentration. Also known as sensorimotor rhythms. Mid-range beta waves (15–22 Hz) support increased mental energy, thinking, problem-solving and mental activity. High Beta (22-38 Hz) supports complex thought, integrating new experiences, high anxiety or high excitement. Excessive high beta can lead to hyper-vigilance, anxiety, insomnia and heightened stress. Sufficient Beta waves in the left hemisphere supports cognition. Excessive right hemispheric beta can be correlated with heighten emotional reactivity, anger and mood disorders.
Beta supports arousal and alertness. Arousal, excitement and anxiety can present similar brainwave patterns. Anxiety is commonly associated with excessive right hemisphere beta. Excessive beta can also cause headaches and migraines.
Gamma brainwaves, even faster brainwave frequencies, oscillate between 30 to 100 Hz. Gamma supports peak concentration, higher cognitive functioning, heightened intuition, bliss.
Low levels of gamma activity have been linked with learning difficulties, impaired mental processing, memory deficits and dementia. In fact, in Alzheimer’s models, restoring gamma wave activity helped to restore memory in subjects. Sufficient high gamma activity is correlated with a high IQ, compassion, memory, and happiness. In advanced meditators and monks, the brain begins to produce bursts of gamma waves which are associated with higher intuition, bliss and intense focus. Gamma and theta coherence plays a key role in memory in temporal lobe networks.
Gamma tends to fire in bursts when there is heightened coherence across neural networks.
Gamma and theta work in unison to enhance cortical processing and memory.
In summary, the brain maps showcase how your brain is firing across all brainwave frequency spectrums “gears” if you will: 1st gear (Delta), 2nd gear (Theta), 3rd gear (Alpha), 4th gear (Beta), 5th gear (High Beta). Brain Mapping shows the brains activity and performance in terms of electrical activity.
What is EEG? What is QEEG? How is it generated?
The EEG (electroencephalogram) uses electrodes, commonly EEG caps, to record brain activity from the surface of the head. Neurons communicate via electrical impulses, which generate electrical cumulative waves called brainwaves. EEGs measure the electrical activity in the brain produced by neurons in the top layer of the cortex. Brainwaves are distinguished by “frequency” cycles per second which is measured in Hertz (Hz).
Quantitative EEG (qEEG)
Brain imaging technologies such as fMRIs & CT scans are used to measure deep structures in the brain and provide terrific spatial resolution. An EEG measures brain activity and provides terrific “temporal” resolution - the ability to measure and quantify changes in brain activity in real time.
A QEEG brain map can reveal areas of over and under-activity across the frequency spectrum. Quantitative analysis uses EEG signals to compute advanced metrics such as “Coherence”, the connectivity and communication between brain regions, “Phase Lag” the speed of communication between brain regions and the relative power output across different regions of the brain “relative power”. QEEG Brain Maps are generated from EEG recordings that provide in depth comparisons to a normative database (ie. the scores are compared to people the same age) as well as provide the individuals dominant brainwave patterns relative to their own brain.
A qEEG (Quantitative EEG) shows brainwave activity as well as the characteristics of brainwaves such as their amplitude, voltage (power), location and whether these patterns are above or below norms. QEEG reveals the quality of communication between brain regions and “Brain Speed” - all key neurological metrics that have a powerful impact on cognition and mental functioning.
Understanding Your Brain Maps
Absolute Power: Your Brains Power Output.
Absolute Power represents the electrical power in each frequency band compared to all other individuals in the database. Absolute power shows whether your brain is producing “more” or less of each frequency than the average person. “Green” indicates activity is in the standard “normal” range while blue signifies under-activity and yellow, orange to red, represents increasing over-activity.
Brain voltage is measured by each electrode showing the amount of brainpower produced at each site within each frequency range.
The color coding, measured in Z-scores, reveals the standard deviations with which the clients brain power output is above or below the norm in each frequency range.
Relative Power: Dominant Frequencies. How is Power Distributed Across Your Brain.
Relative Power reveals the power in each frequency band compared to all other bands. Relative power reveals whether a particular frequency range is over-powering or deficient compared to other frequency ranges. Each individual is likely to have their own dominant frequencies. However, the hallmark of brain health is having sufficient brainwave balance to support all cognitive functions across the board.
Amplitude Asymmetry: Brainwave Balance
Amplitude Asymmetry reveals brainwave balance across the left and right hemispheres of the brain. This metric reveals the difference in power output between the left and right sides of the brain.
Coherence: Communication Between Brain Regions.
This metric reveals the efficiency of how each brain region is communicating with others parts of the brain and their ability to connect/disconnect. Proper communication between neural networks is essential for cognition, focus, memory & executive function. Excessive “hyper-coherence” can indicate over-communication and over-connectivity causing those neural networks to become more “stuck” and “rigid” resulting in likely mental and behavioural inflexibility. Areas of low coherence show under-communication. Both patterns can be problematic.
Phase Lag: Brain & Thinking Speed.
This metric measures the speed of the signal generated between brain regions. If the signal runs too slow, cognition can suffer similar to a computer that “lags”. Excessive brain speed can also have its potential downsides, if it is associated with anxiety for example.
ONE-OF A KIND BRAIN MAPPING EXPERIENCE
Chris has been operating EEGs, QEEG Brain Mapping and neurotechnologies privately and clinically, since he was 20 years old as a neuroscience and psychology under-grad. Over the past 13 years, Chris has mapped over 5000 brains and helped clients ranging from children with ADHD and learning disorders to adults with anxiety and mood disorders to professional athletes suffering Concussions, TBIs and/or seeking performance optimization. Chris has pioneered the use of QEEG Brain Mapping to quantify and measure the effects of various interventions on brain activity in real time and across time, including nootropics, nutraceuticals, hypnosis, cognitive therapy & NLP, meditation, qigong, tai chi, dietary regimens and much more.
While EEGs and QEEG Brain Mapping have become more widespread and available, there is no substitute for the live, in-person analysis Chris can provide you by reading your brainwaves and brain maps in real time. Most can get access to a paintbrush but very few can paint like Picasso. The same is true with the art and science of optimizing the human brain. Neuro-technologies are a tool and the ability to use them, to be able to read EEGs and brain maps and most importantly, the application, the ability to use them to design customized interventions to balance and optimize brain activity is entirely dependent on the expertise and skill of the practitioner you’re working with.
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