CogniFit's Science blog: How Brain Waves Work

How Brain Waves Work

Ever wonder how your brain is able to process all that information? It does it through an intricate network of communication that could be compared to something similar to the routing of the internet.

The information moves from place to place through a series of connections and is passed along amongst neurons.

So what does all that mean in plain English? Let’s start with neurons. Neurons are the cells of the brain. They are similar to other cells in the body with one distinct difference. Neurons carry an electrical signal from cell to cell through the use of synapses. Synapses are like the tunnels in your brain. The signals travel through these tunnels until they reach the right place.

Brain waves are the actual physical signs of these activities happening in the brain. So for example when a doctor does and EEG he can see different colored lines and heat spots in your mind that show him exactly where and how much brain activity is going on at that exact moment.

This neuroscience information can be used as a diagnostic or research tool to learn more about a condition you are suffering from or brain activity in general. The slower your brain waves are the slower activity is happening in your mind. During and EEG you might be subjected to different kinds of stimuli to measure your brain activity during these events.

Brain waves are usually broken down into four categories. The first are delta waves which occur during sleep. The second are theta waves which are associated with sleep, deep relaxation and visualization. The third are alpha waves these occur when you are awake but relaxed and calm. The last one is beta waves which occurs when you are actively thinking or problem solving.

Although brain waves are categorized distinctively they are not an exclusive happening. So you could be experiencing several different types of brain waves at one time. The most healthy brain activity is a mixture of all the different types of brain waves in balance. That is because different activities require different combinations of brain waves so as we shift our activities throughout the day we must shift our thinking as well

The most typical activities that will shift the balance of brain waves in a negative way are brain injuries, drugs and alcohol (including pharmaceuticals), fatigue, distress, pain and stress. Keeping our brain waves and attention healthy is the same as any other kind of brain health it means keeping your brain active and focused on things that resulting positive outcomes.