Frequency Waves

We’ve all seen the heart machines in hospitals that beep in synchrony with a patient’s heartbeat. On the display, the spikes’ timing and amplitude provide information for the doctors and nurses to know how the patient’s heart is performing. This machine, called an ECG (electrocardiogram), detects the electrical signals pulsating through the heart. Since the 100 billion neurons in the brain also send electrical signals to each other, a similar device, called an EEG (electroencephalogram), can measure how a patient’s brain is performing. 

The various spikes of electrical activity, which are produced in different regions of the brain, mean different things. For example, the back region, known as the occipital cortex, is largely responsible for vision, and the side regions, known as the temporal cortex, is largely responsible for hearing. Therefore, spikes in these areas indicate that the patient is seeing or hearing. 

A lot more information can be unpacked from this electrical activity than just individual spikes. In fact, brainwaves can be divided into different frequency bandwidths, such as low-pitch and high-pitch, and they give clues into what a person is thinking and feeling. The slower ones can indicate feelings of being  tired, slow, sluggish, or dreamy. The faster ones are related to feeling wired or hyper alert. Below is a diagram that shows the various frequency bands, their speed, which cognitive states they indicate, and how they look on the EEG.

As you can see from the figure above, the raw EEG signal ranges from .1 to 100 hz. The fastest ones are called Gamma waves, and they indicate the brain is engaged in “higher” cognitive states such as love, altruism, and universal consciousness. This state is also present when the brain is processing a lot of information and passing it between regions. 
Beta waves are engaged when attention is being used to outwardly cognitive tasks that involve the senses. In this state, the mind is alert, focused, good at making judgement decisions, and solving problems. Alpha waves indicate passive and calm thought activity, and that a person is comfortable in the present moment. The brain is awake, yet resting, and is engaged with coordination, clarity, and alertness. This is a great time for learning to take place. 

Theta waves are prevalent in sleep and meditation. They indicate learning, memory, intuition, and imagination. Delta waves are the slowest, and they are indicative of meditation and dreamless sleep. When the brain is actively engaged in a delta rhythm, there is little external awareness, which gives the mind and body a chance to heal and regenerate. 

The CURVEX headset can also detect these signals. Using just two electrodes that rest on the forehead, our headset can simultaneously detect the brain’s frequency bands and give its user’s real-time information about how their brain is performing. With this information, our users can know if their brain wants to rest, be creative, or get to work, which provides the opportunity for users to always operate optimally in alignment with their brain state.