Brain Wave States

One means of classifying modes of consciousness relative to brain wave activity is by the frequencies associated with waking/sleep states. To clarify, measurable frequencies of brain waves define certain states of consciousness. These classifications begin with the Beta state representing a normal wakeful mental state and lying within the frequency range of 13-30 Hz. As one relaxes towards sleep, the brain frequency slows to the range of 8-13 Hz and enters the Alpha state. Within the realm of sleep, the brain first experiences the Theta state between 4-8 Hz and finally the Delta state at a frequency below 4 Hz. The Theta state represents dreaming sleep while Delta is a state of deep, dreamless sleep.



“The combination of frequencies your brain is producing determines or underlies the state of consciousness that you are experiencing”-Anna Wise



 Understanding the states of consciousness is one thing, manipulating them is another. In order to affect one’s state of consciousness, there are two elements of influence needed. The first is a “destabilizing force”, or a stimulus which interrupts the normal (Beta) state of consciousness. Once this has occurred, the second element or“patterning force” can be introduced to draw the brain into the desired state of consciousness.


 This patterning force presents the brain with the desired frequency,and through the process of entrainment (discussed here) the brain may be moved down through the range of states. Both of these agents (destabilizing and patterning)occur through changes to sensory input.  Some examples of this are sensory overload, sensory deprivation, unusual input, and extended sensory exposure.


 These are the tools of manipulation this project will use to attain its desired goal. As we shall see, studies have shown that these shits in sensory experience depress left hemisphereactivity, hyper-activate right hemisphere activity, and draw the brain into therapeutic states of consciousness.  Historically, these states have been induced through a variety of means. Some such examples are the use of drugs or psychoactive agents, sensory stimulation or deprivation, physical exertion, fasting, inducing physical pain, and controlled breathing.  Additionally, the use of sound (and its complex manifestation in music) has also been used to alter consciousness since the oldest evidences of human existence.


 Through eliciting such modes of shifting consciousness, humans throughout time have sought the therapeutic qualities of such altered brain states.


“One study measured brain wave production in subjects chanting “OM.”Singing the syllable OM led to the appearance of theta and deltarhythms as well as increases in the amplitude of alpha and beta activity.This combination of brain waves is typical of a meditative state ofconsciousness.”-Anna Wise