In my last post, I mentioned the four major subcomponent bands, or brain waves that we focus on in Neurofeedback training; Delta, Theta, Alpha, and Beta. This week, I would like to delve a little deeper into those four brainwaves and how each of them is involved in healthy brain function.
Delta is typically more widely known. This subcomponent band has very large, slow waves. It is associated with the unconscious frame of mind and deep resting stages, specifically stages of deep sleep.
Theta is also associated with decreased levels of consciousness. A slow-wave band, Theta is slightly lower in amplitude and has a slightly increased frequency in comparison to Delta. It is involved in stages of sleep, but is more commonly known for its role in twilight stages between sleeping and awake states, otherwise referred to as unconscious and conscious states.
Like Delta and Theta, Alpha is what we consider a slow-wave subcomponent band, however unlike the former brainwaves, Alpha is associated with awake states. Alpha operates at a lower amplitude, but greater frequency than other slow wave bands. When we are awake but day dreaming or thinking more so passively or creatively, Alpha is most prominent: the brain is not actively tuned-in, but is ready to engage itself at any moment, should need be.
The slow wave subcomponent bands then serve as different forms of resting states for the brain, where processing and integration can occur outside of conscious active alertness. Our subcomponent band then associated with active, alert states is Beta. The Beta brainwave is a fast brainwave, operating at a greater frequency but lower amplitude than other waves. When we are tuned-in, paying attention or problem solving, Beta is most involved.
Due to the very different natures of each of these four subcomponent bands, a careful balance must exist between them at any given time, as well as an ability for the brain to shift the level of each as needed. The brain map taken at the beginning of Neurofeedback therapy allows us to determine how these waves are operating. Based on the activity of each, we can determine if symptoms are a result of abnormalities and determine how to help the brain learn to restore its own balance.