What are Brainwaves?Your brain is made up of billions of brain cells called neurons, which use electricity to communicate with each other. The combination of millions of neurons sending signals at once produces an enormous amount of electrical activity in the brain, which can be detected using sensitive medical equipment (such as an EEG), measuring electricity levels over areas of the scalp.
The combination of electrical activity in the brain is commonly called a brainwave pattern, because of its cyclic, "wave-like" nature.
Below is one of the first recordings of brain activity.
Here is a more modern EEG recording:
The Significance of Brainwaves
With the discovery of brainwaves came the discovery that electrical activity in the brain will change depending on what the person is doing. For instance, the brainwaves of a sleeping person are vastly different than the brainwaves of someone wide awake. Over the years, more sensitive equipment has brought us closer to figuring out exactly what brainwaves represent and with that, what they mean about a person's health and state of mind.
You can tell a lot about a person simply by observing their brainwave patterns. For example, anxious people tend to produce an overabundance of high beta waves while people with ADD/ADHD tend to produce an overabundance of slower alpha/theta brainwaves.
Researchers have found that not only are brainwaves representative of mental state, but they can be stimulated to change a person's mental state, and this in turn can help with a variety of mental issues.
Stimulating brainwaves with sound and light: What is Brainwave Entrainment?
Mind Stereo uses audio and visual patterns to stimulate the brain through a process known as brainwave entrainment (or BWE).
Brainwave entrainment (pronounced: "ehn - TRAIN - mint") refers to the brain's electrical response to rhythmic sensory stimulation, such as pulses of sound or light.
When the brain is given a stimulus, through the ears, eyes or other senses, it emits an electrical charge in response, called a Cortical Evoked Response (shown below). These electrical responses travel throughout the brain to become what you see and hear.
When the brain is presented with a rhythmic stimulus, such as a drum beat for example, the rhythm is reproduced in the brain in the form of these electrical impulses. If the rhythm becomes fast and consistent enough, it can start to resemble the natural internal rhythms of the brain, called brainwaves. When this happens, the brain responds by synchronizing its own electric cycles to the same rhythm. This is commonly called the Frequency Following Response (or FFR):
FFR can be useful because brainwaves are very much related to mental state. For example, a 4 Hz brainwave is associated with sleep, so a 4 Hz sound pattern would help reproduce the sleep state in your brain. The same concept can be applied to many other mental states, including concentration, creativity and meditation.
If you listen closely while using our software, you will hear small, rapid pulses of sound. As the session progresses, the frequency rate of these pulses is changed slowly, thereby changing your brainwave patterns and guiding your mind to various useful mental states.
Mind Stereo embeds entrainment into audio and visuals in a number of ways:
- Sound modulation, effects and filters
- Binaural beats & and other tone-based entrainment
- Photic (Light) pulse integration into visual plugins
- AudioStrobe (for use with compatible LED glasses)
Mind Stereo embeds brainwave entraining frequencies into the sound files or net radio stations in your playlist. Instead of just masking tones like most companies, Mind Stereo actually alters the audio to form neural patterns, using the existing sound as the "carrier wave." The entraining modulations may be barely noticeable to the listener(s) while, subconsciously, dramatically altering their brainwave patterns.
One unique feature of Mind Stereo is called Pitch Modulation Panning. This filter modulates the pitch of the left and right side so that when the two sides are combined in the brain, they form the beat we call a binaural beat. This unique feature allows you to experience actual binaural beats using carriers as complex as a symphony.Tones, Binaural Beats
Binaural beats and tones pulses are undeniably the most widespread and popular method of stimulating the brain via brainwave entrainment. Over the last 30 years, embedding binaural beats underneath music has become a very popular technique, used in thousands of CDs around the world. Additionally, Mind Stereo supports the embedding of monaural beats and the very powerful isochronic tone method. While not as subtle as binaural beats, these methods are far more effective from a neurological perspective.
In Mind Stereo, you don't need to use tones to stimulate the brain - in fact, the Pitch Modulation Panning feature (explained above) can actually create binaural beats in any song added to your playlist, using the song as the carrier. However, the option to generate binaural beats or tones is available if you choose to use it, and a number of binaural beat sessions are included.Brain-Enhanced Visual Plugins
Mind Stereo allows you to use your computer screen as a powerful brainwave entrainment device. Visual plugins in MS are embedded with flashes of light, precisely timed according to the target brainwave. You will quickly find your mental state changing after only minutes of using this technology.
Mind Stereo supports a popular visual plugin format, giving you access to a large number of user-created plugins, many of which are mesmerizing and hypnotic even without brainwave stimulation!
Use with Eyes Open!
Most devices that use light to entrain the brain require that the user close his or her eyes, relying on the thinness of the eyelids to let sufficient light in to entrain the brain, without suffering the irritation of flashing light. However, Mind Stereo is different. We have designed the photic stimulation capabilities to be easy on the eyes, and comfortable to experience fully with eyes open. You can even use this with relaxation sessions. If you start to feel tired, allow your eyes to close naturally. The audio component of the BWE session will then take over and relax you even further.Can Mind Stereo be used without headphones?
Many entrainment techniques used in Mind Stereo are revolutionary in that they do not require headphones or even stereo speakers. Veterans of brainwave entrainment may find this strange, since headphones are traditionally part of the brainwave entrainment experience. The reality of the matter is that headphones have never been required for use with anything except binaural beats, which present a slightly different tone to each ear and thus require stereo separation. Monaural beats, for example, do not require such separation and can be used very effectively without headphones. So can modulations, pulses, clicks and light stimulation. Any repeating stimulus can entrain the brain, with or without headphones.
There are certain bands (subcategories) of brainwaves that are related to specific functions of the body and mind. Brainwave stimulation can be a very useful aid for many types of mental and physical disorders.
The brain is constantly emitting nearly every type of brainwave. However, based on the strength of the certain bands of brainwaves, and depending on where the EEG electrodes are placed on the scalp, a person can be said to be "in" a certain brainwave. As you are reading this, you are (assumedly) wide awake and are most likely producing more beta brainwaves than any other type. So you could be said to be "in" beta.
By stimulating the brain to produce or decrease certain brainwaves bands, we can induce a variety of mental states and emotional reactions, including meditation, excitation, concentration, emotional detachment and more.
For instance, if we were to embed alpha waves into music, listening to it would be very relaxing, even causing your body to physically relax. If we embedded theta waves into music, people might even fall asleep!
Mental State / Sub-Categories (bands)
|Gamma||27 Hz and up||
Gamma is associated with the formation of ideas, language and memory processing, and various types of learning. Gamma waves have been shown to disappear during deep sleep induced by anesthesia, but return with the transition back to a wakeful state.
|Beta||12hz - 38hz||
Wide awake. This is generally the mental state most people are in during the day and most of their waking lives. Usually, this state in itself is uneventful, but don't underestimate its importance. Many people lack sufficient Beta activity, which can cause mental or emotional disorders such as depression, ADD and insomnia. Stimulating Beta activity can improve emotional stability, energy levels, attentiveness and concentration.
|Alpha||8hz - 12hz||
Awake but relaxed and not processing much information. When you get up in the morning and just before sleep, you are naturally in this state. When you close your eyes your brain automatically starts producing more Alpha waves.
Alpha is usually the goal of experienced meditators, but to enter it using this program is incredibly easy. You can also use this state for effective self-hypnosis and mental re-programming.
|Theta||3hz - 8hz||
Light sleep or extreme relaxation.
|Delta||0.2hz - 3hz||Deep, dreamless sleep. Delta is the slowest band of brainwaves. When your dominant brainwave is Delta, your body is healing itself and "resetting" its internal clocks. You do not dream in this state and are completely unconscious.|
For more information about each brainwave frequency, and the corresponding benefits of stimulation at that frequency, check out our infographic series. These images contain an in-depth overview of some of the most significant, peer-reviewed research into the benefits of brainwave entrainment.
Bermer, F. "Cerebral and cerebellar potentials." Physiological Review, 38, 357-388.
Chatrian, G., Petersen, M., Lazarte, J. "Responses to Clicks from the Human Brain: Some Depth Electrographic Observation." Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 12: 479-487
Gontgovsky, S., Montgomery, D. "The Physiological Response to "Beta Sweep" Entrainment." Proceedings AAPB Thirteenth Anniversary Annual Meeting, 62-65.
Oster, G. "Auditory beats in the brain." Scientific American, 229, 94-102.
Siever, D. "Isochronic Tones and Brainwave Entrainment." Unpublished, but available through his book the Rediscovery of Audio-Visual Entrainment.
Walter, V. J. & Walter, W. G. "The central effects of rhythmic sensory stimulation." Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 1, 57-86.