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What to Know About Gamma Brain Waves

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on May 25, 2021

‌Your brain is constantly at work, performing processes like thinking, concentrating, remembering, and more. During these activities, your brain cells constantly communicate with each other. This produces patterns or rhythms called brain waves. Gamma brain waves are one such wave pattern created by your brain.

Here is all you need to know about gamma brain waves and how they benefit you.

Understanding Brain Waves

‌Your brain is made up of cells called neurons. When your brain performs neurological functions, neurons transmit information to each other via electrical signals. These signals produce rhythms or wave patterns, which are known as brain waves.

Brain waves can be measured using electroencephalography, or EEG, and magnetoencephalography, or MEG. These techniques involve the attachment of electrodes or sensors to your head for detecting your brain’s activity.

Types of Brain Waves

‌Using EEG, brain waves are measured in cycles per second or Hertz based on their frequency or speed. This suggests that your brain waves can be fast or slow.

When you are awake and alert, your brain is more active. This results in fast brain waves. If you are sleepy or bored, they may be slower. Accordingly, you can have the following types of brain waves ranging from the slowest to the fastest:

Delta brain waves. Your brain produces delta waves when you are completely relaxed in deep sleep. Delta waves are essential for your body to heal and restore during sleep. These are the slowest brain waves and range from 1 to 4 Hertz.

Theta brain waves. Theta waves are produced when you’re sleeping or daydreaming when awake. These waves are associated with relaxation and low alertness. They occur when you’re lost in thought, drowsy, or sleepy. They range from 4 to 8 Hertz. 

Alpha brain waves. Alpha waves are produced when you’re awake but your mind is in a resting state. They are associated with being calm and alert. They can help you during activities that require learning and coordinating.  They fall right in the middle of the brain wave spectrum, ranging from 8 to 12 Hertz.

Beta brain waves. Beta waves are produced throughout your daily activities. It occurs when you’re awake, alert, busy, and focused. These waves range from 12 to 38 Hertz and can be divided into the following subtypes:

  • Low beta waves. These range from 12 to 15 Hertz and occur when you’re thinking.
  • Beta waves. These range from 15 to 22 Hertz and occur when you’re performing activities or focusing on something.
  • High beta waves. These range from 22 to 38 Hertz. They occur when you’re excited or anxious. They also occur when you experience something new or have complex thoughts. 

Gamma brain waves. Gamma waves are the fastest brain waves. They mainly occur when you’re highly alert and conscious. They range from 30 to 80 Hertz.

Gamma Brain Waves

‌Gamma brain waves have the highest frequency among all brain waves. They are associated with high levels of thought and focus. They can have different effects depending on their levels in your brain:‌

  • If your brain produces high levels of gamma waves, you tend to be happier and more receptive. You may also have a higher intelligence quotient or IQ and better concentration.
  • If your brain produces low levels of gamma waves, you may develop learning and memory problems. You may experience lower concentration, attention span, and mental ability. Lower levels of gamma waves can even lead to learning disabilities and mental disorders.

Benefits of Gamma Brain Waves

‌Gamma waves are associated with higher brain functions like cognition and memory. A recent study has shown that gamma waves can improve your working memory.

Studies have also revealed that increased gamma brain wave activity can help you achieve the highest concentration levels. Gamma waves can also promote higher states of awareness and increased brain function during meditation. 

Gamma waves have the following benefits:

  • They can improve your cognition and problem-solving ability
  • They help you with information processing
  • They can improve your memory
  • They can help increase your attention span
  • They can increase your awareness and mindfulness
  • They may boost your brain’s immunity and function

Because of these effects, researchers have indicated the use of gamma brain waves to treat the following conditions:

How to Boost Your Brain Waves

‌You can manipulate and boost your brain waves through various techniques.

Meditation. Different types of meditation and breathing exercises can increase the production of gamma waves in your brain.

Diet. Including nuts like pistachios and peanuts in your diet can help boost your gamma and delta brain waves, respectively.

Music. A study has shown that auditory stimuli like music or binaural beats can help boost your alpha and theta brain waves.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:
Acta medica Lituanica: “The impact of music on the bioelectrical oscillations of the brain.”
LOMA LINDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH: “Study finds consuming nuts strengthens beneficial brainwave frequencies.”
Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “New study reveals how brain waves control working memory.”
Neurofeedback Alliance: “Understanding brain waves.”
PLOS ONE: “Increased Gamma Brainwave Amplitude Compared to Control in Three Different Meditation Traditions.”
PNAS: “Inner Workings: A pulse of hope in the fight against Alzheimer’s.”‌

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