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.
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.