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Brainwaves & Brainwave Entrainment

What are Brainwaves?


The brain is made up of billions of brain cells called neurons, which use electro-chemical signals to communicate with each
other. Sufficient electrical activity is generated so that it can be detected using a sensitive medical device known as an EEG.

The combination of electrical activity in the brain is commonly called a Brainwave pattern, because of its cyclic, "wave-like"
nature. Brainwaves are measured in units called “Hertz”, usually abbreviated as “Hz”. The human brain (and that of most other
mammals) operates generally within a band of frequencies extending from about 30Hz down to around .5Hz. From high to low
they are arranged into four groups: Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta. While there are other groups both above and below this
range, these are the frequencies most commonly experienced. See Appendix I below for a wave summary chart.

Example of early EEG recordings:

Here is a more modern EEG recording utilizing a 3D format:

The Significance of Brainwaves


With the ability to view and measure brainwaves it was quickly learned that electrical activity in the brain changes depending on
what the person is doing and/or how they are feeling. For instance, the brainwaves of someone playing chess are radically
different than those of a person who is listening to quiet music. Brainwaves have been studied for about 70 years. Today we
can reliably associate certain brainwave frequencies with various activities and/or mental states.

For example, people who suffer with anxiety disorders tend to produce high range Beta waves (between about 22Hz and
39Hz) for prolonged periods, while people with ADD/ADHD tend to over produce the slower Alpha/Theta brainwaves and
under produce healthy, mid range Beta (14Hz up to about 22Hz.)

Brainwaves not only indicate our mental states, but they can be stimulated to influence and change our mental states and
enhance our capabilities. This is the premise on which brainwave entrainment rests.
What is Brainwave Entrainment?

In simplest terms Brainwave Entrainment deals with the brain's electrical response to rhythmic sensory stimulation.

When the brain is subjected to such a series of stimuli it begins to produce an equivalent, pulsed electrical charge in response
called the Cortical Evoked Response or CER. Note in the graphic below that the CER peak mirrors the peak of the sound wave
pulse. These electrical responses travel throughout the brain and are interpreted or translated into the things we see and hear.
In effect, they become our subjective experience.

Two points must be true for brainwave entrainment to occur. First, the stimulus to the brain has to be rhythmic and evenly
spaced. This evenness of spacing is what constitutes “frequency”. Second, the frequency of the stimulus must be within
the natural brainwave range of frequency of the brain for the brain to begin to adopt it. Frequencies too far above or below
the brain’s natural range will simply be ignored in terms of any entrainment potential. When these two points are true the
brain responds by synchronizing brainwaves with the entrainment frequency, called the Frequency Following Response or
FFR.

The principle of FFR is important because of the close relationship of brainwaves to our state of mind and mood. Brainwaves in
the Alpha range are often present during the process of daydreaming. Therefore, an Alpha entrainment wave may create
conditions conducive to reproducing the state of daydreaming, or at least the subjective feelings associated with this state, such
as calm, relaxation, and a natural focus of awareness.

Applications of this principle apply to virtually any mental state we are capable of experiencing, and carry over into activities that
are related to these mental states. Examples of this include states of mind such as peace, calm, enthusiasm, excitement, focus,
concentration, and to activities that are associated with these states of mind such as study and learning, relaxation, creativity,
and so forth.
Audio Entrainment Waves

Audio entrainment stimulates


the brain by embedding
brainwave entrainment
frequencies within other
sounds, such as music,
nature sounds, abstract
sounds, or even speech.
Between 6 and 10 minutes (8
minutes on average) of
exposure to a fixed
entrainment frequency is
required for brainwave
entrainment to occur.
Entrainment frequencies may be clearly audible or completely
EEG Recording. 10Hz Alpha entrainment buried and unheard by the listener. Either way they may result
before and during entrainment. in profound effects.

Many repeating stimuli can produce entrainment, including pulsed sound, flashing lights, physical vibrations or electrical
impulses like those produced by Cranial Electrical Stimulation (CES) devices, so long as they meet the two criteria noted
above.

Three audio wave forms (wave forms are not to be confused with wave frequencies) exist for use in entrainment. These are
Binaural, Monaural and Isochronic. Each has unique strengths. The vast majority of commercial entrainment programs use
only Binaural waves.

Binaural waves are created by introducing two slightly different tones independently into the left and right ears. The brain
struggles to make these two different tones match each other and in so doing it manufactures what it perceives to be a third
separate tone which is equal to the difference between the first two tones. For example, place a tone of 100Hz into the left ear
and a tone of 110Hz into the right ear and the brain will believe it hears a third tone equal to the difference between these first
two of 10Hz. This is not a physical sound in the sense that it impacts on and registers with the ear drum, but is an artificial
construct created and perceived by the brain alone.
To exactly control the frequency of Binaural waves it is necessary to precisely control the moment at which the two root tones
reach the left and right ears respectively. This necessitates the use of stereo headphones. Of the three different wave forms,
Binaural waves produce the least brainwave entrainment, but they produce the greatest synchronization between hemispheres
of the brain as the process of reconciling the different tones coming into each ear forces the brain hemispheres to work in
coordination with each other.

Monaural waves are created when the same tones are pulsed equally into both ears. Because they actually impact on the
mechanisms of hearing Monaural waves result in a much stronger, sharper, more well-defined sound than that produced in the
Binaural process. The result is greater brainwave entrainment but less hemispheric synchronization.

Isochronic waves are created by rapidly raising and lowering the volume of a tone. The speed at which the volume is
modulated corresponds to the frequency of the entrainment wave. For example, if the tone volume was raised up and down and
back up again in a one second timeframe, the frequency of this wave would be 1Hz, or one “beat” per second. Isochronic waves
have the most sharply defined acoustics of the three different wave forms and thereby command the greatest entrainment
potential. They produce some hemispheric synchronization but not as much as Monaural waves and far less than Binaural
waves. Isochronic and Monaural entrainment is effective with or without the use of stereo headphones. Binaural waves require
headphones or they have no effect.

Brainwave Combinations
The brain naturally produces various wave frequencies in combination which are unique to each individual brain. While all
humans share the same basic brain chemistry and usage of brainwaves, the patterns of one brain are like snowflakes in that no
two are ever identical. In studies utilizing recordings of brainwaves created by the brain of one subject and played as an
entrainment track listened to by a second subject, it was found that no entrainment effect occurs. Regardless of how similar
native brainwave patterns between two brains might appear to be, “close” is not close enough to produce entrainment. One
brain’s patterns cannot be used as a template for entrainment of any other brain.
Selected Bibliography
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.

Shealy, N., Cady, R., Cox, R., Liss, S., Clossen, W., Veehoff, D. "A Comparison of Depths of Relaxation Produced by Various
Techniques and Neurotransmitters by Brainwave Entrainment" - Shealy and Forest Institute of Professional Psychology A study done
for Comprehensive Health Care, Unpublished.

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.

Brainwave Frequencies Reference - Appendix I

Brainwave Frequency Experience Helpful For Neurotransmitters/Hormones


Lambda Higher – 200Hz Ecstatic experiences, Little study done Not yet determined
Feelings of Oneness
Hyper Gamma 200Hz – 100Hz Ecstatic experiences, Little study done Not yet determined
Feelings of Oneness
Gamma 100Hz – 40Hz Ecstatic experiences, Deep meditation, Serotonin, Endorphins
Feelings of Oneness (Samadhi, Nirvana,
Satori, etc.)
Beta (High) 40Hz – 22Hz Anxiety, Nervousness, NOT helpful Adrenaline, Cortisol, Nor epinephrine
Panic Attacks
Beta (Mid to Low) 22Hz – 14Hz Alertness, Focus, ADD/ADHD, CFS, Dopamine
Concentration SAD,
Alpha 14Hz – 8Hz Peaceful, Relaxed, Relaxation, Serotonin, Endorphins
Daydream Meditation, Anxiety,
Stress, Panic, Focus
Alpha/Theta 7.83Hz – Calm, Meditative, EMF resistance, GABA, Serotonin, Acetylcholine,
Schumann Physically Relaxed, Immune System, Endorphins
Resonance Sleepy Insomnia
Theta 8Hz – 4Hz Deeply Relaxed, Deep Meditation, GABA, Serotonin, Acetylcholine, Anti-
Sleepy (REM stage Insight, Creativity, Cortisol, Endorphins, Human Growth
sleep) Immune System Hormone
Delta 4Hz –.5Hz Deep Rest/Sleep Deepest Meditation, Human Growth Hormone, Melatonin
(dreamless), Deeply Sleep
Meditative (w/greatly
reduced thought)
Epsilon .5Hz – Below Ecstatic experiences, Deep meditation, Serotonin, Endorphins
Feelings of Oneness (Samadhi, Nirvana,
Satori, etc.)

Note – There is not 100% agreement among specialists as to exactly where one brainwave range ends and another begins. For
example, some researchers believe Delta range ends at 1hz rather than the .5Hz shown above. Minor differences in
interpretation such as these are common in the field and should not cause the reader undue concern. The frequencies shown
above are generally accepted by most researchers as accurate. Similarly, not all specialists concur that there exist frequencies
above Beta, especially those listed here as Hyper Gamma and Lambda. Again, this should not cause the reader undue
concern.
Extended Bibliographical References For Further Research:

Anoukhin, A. "EEG Alpha Rhythm Frequency and Intelligence in Normal Individuals." Intelligence, 23: 1-14

Benson, H., Wallace, R.K. (1972). "The Physiology of Meditation." Scientific American, Vol 226, No 2, 84-90

Berg, K, Siever, D (1999). "Audio-Visual Entrainment as a Treatment Modality for Seasonal Affective Disorder." Presented at
the Society for Neuronal Regulation.

Berg, K, Mueller, H., Siebael, D., Siever, D. (1999). "Outcome of Medical Methods, Audio-Visual Entrainment, and Nutritional
Supplementation for the Treatment of Fibromyalgia Syndrome." Presented at the Society for Neuronal Regulation.

Boersma, F., Gagnon, C. (1992). "The Use of Repetitive Audiovisual Entrainment in the Management of Chronic Pain." Medical
Hypnosis Journal, Vol 7, No3: 80-97

Brackopp, G. W. (1984). Review of research on Multi-Modal sensory stimulation with clinical implications and research
proposals. Unpublished manuscript--see Hutchison (1986).

Budzynski, T. H. (1977). "Tuning in on the twilight zone." Psychology Today, August.

Fredrick, J., Lubar, J., Rasey, H., Blackburn, J. (1999). "Effects of 18.5 Hz Audiovisual Stimulation On EEG Amplitude at the
Vertex." Proceedings AAPB Thirteenth Anniversary Annual Meeting, 42-45.

Foster, D. S. (1990) "EEG and subjective correlates of alpha frequency binaural beats stimulation combined with alpha
biofeedBack." Ann Arbor, MI: UMI, Order No. 9025506.

Foulkes, D. & Vogel, G. (1964). "Mental activity at sleep-onset." Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 70, 231-243.

Giannitrapani, D. (1969). "EEG Average Frequency and Intelligence." Electroencephalography & Clinical Neurophysiology, 27,
480-486.

Gontgovsky, S., Montgomery, D. (1999). "The Physiological Response to "Beta Sweep" Entrainment." Proceedings AAPB
Thirteenth Anniversary Annual Meeting, 62-65.

Hoovey, Z. B., Heinemann, U. & Creutzfeldt, O. D. (1972). "Inter-hemispheric 'synchrony' of alpha waves."
Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 32, 337-347.

Jausovec, N. (1996). "Differences in EEG Alpha Activity Related to Giftedness." Intelligence, 23, 159-173.

Joyce, M., Siever, D., Twittey, M. (2000). "Audio Visual Entrainment Program as a Treatment for Behavior Disorders in a
School Setting." Journal of Neurotherapy, Vol 4, No 2, 9-25

Manns, A., Mirralles, R., Adrian, H. (1981). "The Application of Audio Stimulation and Electromyographic Biofeedback to
Bruxism and Myofascial Pain-Dysfunction Syndrome." Oral Surgery, Vol 52, No 3, 247-252.

Markland, O.N. (1990). "Alpha Rythms." Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology, 7, 163-189.

Oster, G. (1973). "Auditory beats in the brain." Scientific American, 229, 94-102.

Schacter, D. L. (1977). "EEG theta waves and psychological phenomena: A review and analysis." Psychology, 5, 47-82.

Shealy, N., Cady, R., Cox, R., Liss, S., Clossen, W., Veehoff, D. "A Comparison of Depths of Relaxation Produced by Various
Techniques and Neurotransmitters by Brainwave Entrainment - Shealy and Forest Institute of Professional Psychology" A study
done for Comprehensive Health Care, Unpublished.

Siever, D. "Isochronic Tones and Brainwave Entrainment." Unpublished.


Siever, D. (2002) "The Rediscovery of Audio-Visual Entrainment Technology." Self-published by mindalive.ca.

Siever, D., Twittey, M. "Light and Sound Stimulation as a Treatment for Chronic Pain." Unpublished.

Thomas, N., Siever, D. (1976). "The Effect of Repetitive Audio/Visual Stimulation on Skeletomotor and Vascular Activity."
Hypnosis - The Fourth European Congress at Oxford.

Timmerman, D. L., Lubar, J. F., Rasey, H. W., Frederick, J. A. (1999). "Effects of 20-Min Audio-Visual Stimulation (AVS) at
Dominant Alpha Frequency and Twice Dominant Alpha Frequency on the Cortical EEG." International Journal of
Psychophysiology.

Toman, J (1941). "Flicker Potentials and the Alpha Rhythm in Man." Journal of Neurophysiology, Vol 4, 51-61.

Trudeau, D. (1999). "A Trial of 18 Hz Audio-Visual Stimulation (AVS) on Attention and Concentration in Chronic Fatigue
Syndrome (CFS)." Presented at the Society for Neuronal Regulation.

Vogt, F., Klimesh, W., Dopelmayr, M. (1998). "High Frequency Components in the Alpha Band and Memory Performance."
Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology, 15, 167-172.

Walter, V. J. & Walter, W. G. (1949). "The central effects of rhythmic sensory stimulation." Electroencephalography and Clinical
Neurophysiology, 1, 57-86.

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