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Origin of different brainwaves


I'm creating a project in which I can measure brainwaves (more or less like EEG). Since I'm not a medical student im having a problem finding the origin or most prominent regions for measurements of alpha and beta waves. I have researched on the internet but can't find a definite solution. So can someone please tell me the exact origin or the most prominent region (active region) of our brain where the alpha and beta waves can be measured reliably??( Like ocipital region or frontal temporal etc)


Alpha and beta brainwaves are just two of several arbitrary, named frequency ranges for a brain-wide phenomenon. See Types of Brain waves. These so-called brainwaves are big electrical events that sweep across the entire brain.

My recommendation for electrode placement is based on my engineering experience. Pick any location on the scalp. You could start with the temples. Take your measurements. Then move the electrodes to a different location and repeat the measurement. Continue this experimentation until you discover by observation which location yields the best results. When you have finished with the experiment, you can post your experimental results on SE Biology and answer your own question.

I suspect that electrode type and method of contact (dry versus conductive gel) will be more significant than actual placement on the head.


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Suspicions uncovered from official reports and publicly available information also sprouted more questions, leading to surprising findings and inquiries.

Contributed by Alexandra Bruce

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Chronobiology: The Science of Time

Most of us have very little knowledge about the human body’s inner clock. However, a young science from Europe called Chronobiology has been gaining importance over the past 30 years. Chronobiology refers to the day-night cycle that affects the human organism when the earth rotates. Since the beginning of mankind, human history has been shaped by light and darkness. Genetically manifested timers reside deep in our bodies that control this fundamental rhythm. The more intelligently we absorb their information, the more useful it is. This connection is important in the prevention and treatment of diseases, as well as for the healing process.

The beginnings of Chronobiology date back to the 18th century. The astronomer Jean Jacques d’Ortous de Mairan reported daily leaf movements of the mimosa. Through experimentation he was able to show that the leaves continue to swing in a circadian rhythm, even in permanent darkness. Renowned scientists like Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland, Carl von Linné, and—most importantly—Charles Darwin reported similar rhythmic phenomena. Yet it wasn’t until the 20th century when chronobiology research truly began. Wilhelm Pfeffer, Erwin Bünning, Karl von Frisch, Jürgen Aschoff, Colin Pittendrigh and Arthur Winfree are among its pioneers.

The Three Basic Cycles of Chronobiology

Infradian Rhythms

(derived from the Latin word infra, meaning “below,” and the Latin word diem, meaning “day” – breaking down the origin of the word, Infradian means the period of this rhythm is longer than 24-hours, therefor, the frequency is below/under those of one day.)

These are rhythms that last more than 24 hours. These are repeated only every few days, weeks, months, or even once per year.

Good examples are seasonal rhythms such as bird migration, lunar rhythms (which follow the phases of the moon, or about 29.5 days) and semi-lunar rhythms (about 14 days) that are associated with tidal cycles. Another example is unpredictable rhythms (aka “non-circadian rhythms” that do not have any environmental correspondence) such as a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Ultradian Rhythms

(derived from the Latin ultra, meaning “beyond,” and from the Latin word diem, meaning “day” – breaking down the origin of the word, Ultradian means the period of this rhythm is shorter than 24-hours, and therefor has a frequency beyond/higher than one day.)

These are biological rhythms that are shorter than 24-hours. There are many physiological functions of the human body that exemplify an ultradian rhythm. These rhythms have multiple cycles in one day. An adult, for example, has an exertion and rest cycle about every two hours.

Ultradian rhythms regulate physical, emotional and spiritual functions. They often last several hours and include the ingestion of food, circulation of blood, excretion of hormones, different stages of sleep and the human performance curve. These processes are built into our bodies in millions of ways. Some last merely seconds, such as the control of breathing. Some last only milliseconds, such as the majority of processes that take place in the cell on a microcirculatory level. Tidal rhythms (about 12.4 hours) are often observed in marine life, follow the transition of the tides from high to low and back and have a special function for many people living inside a surf zone.

Circadian Rhythms

(from Latin “circa” meaning “around,” and “diem” meaning “day”)

These are rhythms that take approximately 24-hours, i.e. the human sleep/wake cycle or the leaf movements of plants. Many effects of circadian rhythms directly and immediately affect humans, therefore, they are the most extensively researched. Thus, all further explanations refer to circadian rhythms.

Chronobiology Today

The field of chronobiology is rapidly expanding around the world. Medical professionals, researchers and the general population are beginning to see the benefits of using chronobiological principles in everything from medication administration to determining the most effective time of day to exercise. Chronobiology is being used in the study of genetics, endocrinology, ecology, sports medicine and psychology, to name a few.

The chronopharmacology branch of chronobiology has been especially lucrative. Thousands of studies have yielded information on how the precise timing of a medication or supplement can decrease side effects, have a more potent effect on the target organ system or disease and even completely disrupt a physiological process.

Many renowned institutions have added departments, labs and curriculum centered on the study of chronobiology. These institutions have provided groundbreaking research and insights that have helped shape modern medicine and the understanding of our innate biological rhythms. Melatonin, also referred to as the “mother hormone of chronobiology,” the effects of light on a variety of diseases and the phenomenon of chronotypes have been areas of particular interest.

While chronobiology is still considered a young science, the possibilities it presents are endless. Our methods of research are becoming more advanced and with that brings the reality that chronobiology will eventually become the leading scientific discipline.


“Princess Leia” brainwaves help sleeping brain store memories

Salk researchers discover rotating waves of brain activity that repeat during night

LA JOLLA—Every night while you sleep, electrical waves of brain activity circle around each side of your brain, tracing a pattern that, were it on the surface of your head, might look like the twin hair buns of Star Wars’ Princess Leia. The Salk Institute scientists who discovered these circular “Princess Leia” oscillations, which are described in the journal eLife, think the waves are responsible each night for forming associations between different aspects of a day’s memories.

“The scale and speed of Princess Leia waves in the cortex is unprecedented, a discovery that advances the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative,” says Terrence Sejnowski, head of Salk’s Computational Neurobiology Laboratory.

Short-term memory of events is stored in an area of the brain called the hippocampus. Long-term memories, however, are encoded in the neocortex. The transfer of memories from the hippocampus to the neocortex is called memory consolidation, and happens while we sleep.

Sleep spindles—a type of brain wave pattern known to occur in the earliest stages of non-REM sleep—are associated with memory consolidation. Previous studies showed that the more sleep spindles a human brain exhibits overnight, the more numbers one would remember the next day. But exactly how these sleep spindles related to memory was unclear, and scientists were limited by the fact that electrodes could only detect these spindles at one place in the brain at a time.

Terrence Sejnowski and Lyle Muller

Click here for a high resolution image

“For a long time, neuroscience researchers had to record activity at one point in the brain at a time and put many data points together without seeing the whole picture simultaneously,” says Lyle Muller, a Salk research associate and first author of the new work. Scientists had long believed that each sleep spindle oscillation peaked at the same time everywhere in the neocortex of the brain.

Sejnowski and Muller wanted to see the broader picture, however, and turned to large-scale recordings, called intracranial electrocorticograms (ECoGs), that can measure activity in many areas of the brain at once. Patients with epilepsy often have ECoG arrays temporarily implanted in their brains to determine the location in the brain of epileptic seizures, so the scientists were able to study all the data collected from five such patients on healthy, seizure-free nights.

When they crunched the ECoG data from each night, the researchers were in for a surprise: the sleep spindles weren’t peaking simultaneously everywhere in the cortex. Instead, the oscillations were sweeping in circular patterns around and around the neocortex, peaking in one area, and then—a few milliseconds later—an adjacent area.

“We think that this brain activity organization is letting neurons talk to neurons in other areas,” says Muller. “The time scale that these waves travel at is the same speed it takes for neurons to communicate with each other.”

Throughout the night, the researchers observed the same rotating patterns, each lasting about 70 milliseconds but repeating hundreds and hundreds of times over a matter of hours.

Why would different areas of the neocortex need to communicate to store memories? One single memory is composed of different components (smell, sound, visuals) that are stored in different areas of the cortex. As a memory is being consolidated, Muller and Sejnowski hypothesize, circular sleep spindle waves help form the links between these different aspects of a single memory.

“If we understand how memories are being linked up like this in the brain, we could potentially come up with methods for disrupting memories after trauma,” says Sejnowski. “There are also disorders including schizophrenia that affect sleep spindles, so this is really an interesting topic to keep studying.”

Other researchers on the study were Dominik Koller of the Salk Institute Giovanni Piantoni and Sydney S. Cash of Massachusetts General Hospital and Eric Halgren of the University of California San Diego.

The work and the researchers involved were supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Swartz Foundation and the Office of Naval Research.


The oscillations in neuronal electrical activity

The concept of oscillation in the activity of neurons refers to the different rhythms and frequencies that the electrical activity expresses in the central nervous system. This idea is very broad, and applies both to refer to what makes an individual neuron as a group of neurons working in networks.

For example, oscillation can refer to the degree of electrical activation of a single neuron over time, measuring the rate at which the appearance of a nerve impulse becomes more likely depending on the degree of depolarization but it can also be used to refer to the frequency with which several neurons in a group send signals almost simultaneously.

Be that as it may, in all cases these oscillations in electrical activity can be represented by waves by means of encephalography, in a similar way in which the beating of the heart is measured by the electrocardiogram.


Origin of different brainwaves - Biology

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Being on the same wavelength isn’t just a figure of speech. It’s proven neuroscience.

You know when someone’s on your wavelength. Conversations go great. You get them, and they get you. It’s groovy. Now science is proving this concept’s more than metaphorical.

A study on brain-to-brain synchrony, published in Current Biology on April 27, examined the neuroscience of classroom interaction and found that shared attention—spurred by certain stimuli, like eye contact and face-to-face exchange—generated similar brain wave patterns in students. The research, led by psychologist Suzanne Dikker at New York University, indicates engaged groups are literally in sync on a brain-to-brain basis.

“The human brain has evolved for group living, yet we know so little about how it supports dynamic group interactions,” the study notes. Real-world social exchanges are a mystery and much previous research has been limited to artificial environments and simple tests. This effort, however, measured brainwave activity during face-to-face interaction in a natural rather than constructed environment, investigating social dynamics across time.

Classrooms make a particularly good place for neuro-scientific exploration because they’re lively—with lots of actors and factors at play—but also semi-controlled environments with limited influences and all activities led by a single teacher. “This allowed us to measure brain activity and behavior in a systematic fashion over the course of a full semester as students engaged,” the researchers explain.

The brainwaves of 12 teenage students’ brainwaves were recorded during 11 different classes throughout the semester each session was 50 minutes long. The students followed live lectures, watched instructional videos, and participated in group discussions. Researchers tracked students’ brainwaves throughout using portable electroencephalogram (EEG) systems.

The study tested the hypothesis that group members think similarly, and that the more engaged they are, the more similarly the think—and that this could be seen in shared brainwave patterns. The researchers believed that engagement predicts, and possibly underpins, classroom learning specifically and group dynamics generally. Indeed, they found that when students were more engaged in a teaching style—listening to a lecture versus watching a video, say—they were also more likely to show similar brainwaves.

That brainwave synchronicity seems to be generated from a number of small, individual interactions. Particular types of exchanges seemed to especially influence the meeting of the minds in the study, say the researchers. For example, eye contact was linked to shared intentions, which “sets up a scaffold” for social cognition and more engagement. These individual interactions seemed to lead to a shared sense of purpose across the group—which manifested in specific brainwave patterns, likewise shared across the group.

The researchers believe their work with teens in the classroom—which wasn’t easy given the students’ energy levels and EEGs attached to their boisterous young brains—shows it is possible to investigate the neuroscience of group interactions under “ecologically natural circumstances.” They hope it leads to more exploration of brainwaves out in the wilderness that is civilization.


Biological psychology

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Biological psychology, also called physiological psychology or behavioral neuroscience, the study of the physiological bases of behaviour. Biological psychology is concerned primarily with the relationship between psychological processes and the underlying physiological events—or, in other words, the mind-body phenomenon. Its focus is the function of the brain and the rest of the nervous system in activities (e.g., thinking, learning, feeling, sensing, and perceiving) recognized as characteristic of humans and other animals. Biological psychology has continually been involved in studying the physical basis for the reception of internal and external stimuli by the nervous system, particularly the visual and auditory systems. Other areas of study have included the physiological bases for motivated behaviour, emotion, learning, memory, cognition, and mental disorders. Also considered are physical factors that directly affect the nervous system, including heredity, metabolism, hormones, disease, drug ingestion, and diet.

Theories of the relationship between body and mind date back at least to Aristotle, who conjectured that the two exist as aspects of the same entity, the mind being merely one of the body’s functions. In the dualism of French philosopher René Descartes, both the mind and the soul are spiritual entities existing separately from the mechanical operations of the human body. Related to this is the psychological parallelism theory of German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Leibniz believed that mind and body are separate but that their activities directly parallel each other. In recent times behaviourists such as American psychologist John B. Watson moved away from consideration of the spiritual or mental and focused on observable human and animal behaviours and their relationship to the nervous system. See behavioral science.

This article was most recently revised and updated by John M. Cunningham, Readers Editor.


What Are The Four Different Types Of Brain Waves?

There are four different types of brain waves that occur at different times and differ one from another by their frequency. But we are going to discuss the measuring process of the brain waves later. Now let’s see what types of brain waves exist.

The alpha brain waves occur during the moments of deep relaxation. Do you wonder what do alpha brain waves indicate? These brain waves actually promote and indicate feelings of deep relaxation to occur. They occur whenever you are calm and relaxed, being in their optimal state.

Whenever your body and mind go through a lot of stress and anxiety these alpha waves are basically nowhere to be found or present in small frequencies. Alpha waves occur only in the “now state” of the brain, meaning that they only occur during the day when you are conscious, never while you sleep.

The beta brain waves dominate most of the conscious state of your mind. They occur anytime when your brain actively completes different cognitive functions such as thinking, learning, solving a problem, making a decision and staying focused on a task.

Having the right amount of beta waves ables us to stay focused, complete a task, stay on track with the learning process and so on. On the other hand, having too many beta waves leads to experiencing anxiety and stress.

Do you know why you drink coffee when you need to stay up late and study? Apart from the fact that caffeine will kill your wish to sleep, caffeine is a direct stimulant that affects your brain waves while your beta brain waves naturally increase. This helps you not only to stay awake but also to stay focused and complete the learning process efficiently.

The gamma brain waves are closely bound to the consciousness of the mind. These are known as the fastest of all brain waves and occur only when we are trying to use our brain’s cognitive functions at a higher level. For example, the gamma brain waves are produced when our brain receives information from different areas and then creates perceptions.

This happens all the time and it is impossible to happen without the fast gamma waves. It is thought that mentally retarded patients experience fewer gamma waves through their life due to their decreased cognitive abilities like thinking, problem-solving, decision making and so on.

Contrary to the gamma brain waves, the delta brain waves are the slowest of all known brain waves. The delta brain waves are believed to have a healing power regarding the damaged body tissues from the day before. Unfortunately, the delta brain waves are noticed to occur only in infants and small children during their deepest sleep and relaxation mode.

Sure, the delta brain waves are present in our adult brain as well, however not so much. Actually, it is the delta brain waves that help you feel energized and relaxed after a good night sleep. The delta brain waves are related to the unconscious mind.


Lab-Grown Human Brains Show Brain Waves, Igniting Ethics Controversy

Interest in growing mini-brains in the lab derives from prohibitive experimentation on live human brains to find cures for various illnesses. Photo by Tiko Aramyan

According to the article in The Guardian, small human brains that were grown from stem cells have “developed spontaneous brain waves” that are “similar to those seen in premature babies.” The immediate ethical concern with these so-called “organoids” is that scientists have grown a primitive life form that could be self-aware and suffering some kind of pain during its existence, let alone while being experimented on. Interest in growing these mini-brains has come from the notorious difficulty of experimenting on live human brains to find cures for various illnesses. Scientists have hoped that by cloning brain material, they could work on understanding the brain better without harming a living person. Human cloning makes great science fiction material, but this new development raises questions about real-world ethics and the cloning endeavor.

Designer Babies and the “Appeal to Nature” Fallacy

Cloning is a near cousin to the idea of genetically-engineered babies. Put simply, the idea of genetically-engineered babies involves scientifically altering a fetus’s genetic code for various purposes, like making the baby grow into a stronger athlete or making sure it has a specific hair or eye color or isn’t prone to certain allergies or inherited diseases.

Many critics of genetic engineering argue that the process is wrong simply and ultimately because it’s “unnatural.” However, that may not be the best defense.

“Such arguments fallaciously rely on what philosopher Daniel Maguire calls the biologism fallacy, or ‘the fallacious effort to wring a moral mandate out of raw biological facts,'” said Dr. David K. Johnson, Associate Professor of Philosophy at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. “It’s also called the ‘Appeal to Nature’ fallacy. Something being natural does not make it moral being unnatural doesn’t make it immoral.”

For example, air conditioning is unnatural, but it’s rarely condemned as being an immoral affront to nature—especially by anyone who’s ever spent a summer in the American South.

Ethics of Cloning

The revelation of lab-grown brains exhibiting brain waves puts us one step closer to cloning a full human being. So how does this compare to popular sci-fi depictions of cloned humans?

“Usually, clones are depicted as carbon copies who look, behave, and even have the same memories as the individual,” Dr. Johnson said. “But this simply wouldn’t happen. Although clones would look the same—because physical characteristics are determined by genetics—they would each be their own person, their own individual.”

This, he said, is because of the different environments in which each clone would be raised. Just as our own childhood experiences affect us for life, different childhood experiences from one clone to the next would produce people who behaved differently. Realizing this also helps us escape the sci-fi trope of clones being mindless, inhuman commodities, or “disposable entities without souls, which can be mistreated or used without moral regard” in Dr. Johnson’s words.

“The idea that ‘being born’ [as opposed to being created artificially] is necessary for someone to have a soul is ludicrous,” Dr. Johnson said. “If the soul does exist, why would being born be a necessary condition for having one? Wouldn’t having a functioning brain be the more likely candidate?”

If so, he said, clones would certainly qualify, since they would have functioning brains.

The final question is if cloning should be illegal, and Dr. Johnson points to the popular theory that society would treat clones as property or as mindless, soulless creatures even though they aren’t. However, he disagrees, citing the fact that people used to argue against mixed-race marriages due to society’s treatment of mixed-race children. That, he said, was evidence that society needed to change, not that two people of different ethnicities shouldn’t marry.

Our individual scientific and philosophical beliefs about personhood, the existence of the soul, where life comes from, and much more have all colored the debate about cloning. With the recent boom in mini-brain development in laboratories, it may be a discussion we have to have sooner rather than later.

Dr. David Kyle Johnson contributed to this article. Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Philosophy at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He earned a master’s degree and doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oklahoma. At Oklahoma, he won the coveted Kenneth Merrill Graduate Teaching Award.