9 months ago
The next time you overhear someone say 'I've had a brainwave', ask them which one. They won't know, but it's a conversation opener because the brain has lots of different waves going on at different times of day and different states of conscious (and unconscious) engagement.
It's not just brains though. Everything in the universe has waves or rhythms - from the orbits of galaxies, stars and planets through the flashing of fireflies and down to the oscillations of particles. It's just that our brains have evolved demonstrating different waves as expressed in the rhythmic and periodic firing of our neurons.
Another unusual thing about most biological entities is that they can often 'couple' with wave states that they perceive through the senses.
Fireflies have no WhatsApp group to communicate but will usually end up flashing simultaneously. Starlings don't decide to murmurate in interesting shapes it's just that their sensory feedback and adjustment systems lead to the appearance of a hive mind.
In the brain, the main characters in dramatis personae of waves are Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta and Gamma. Each is effectively like a musical note, ranging from the ultra-low notes of Delta and down which are associated with deep sleep, right the way up to high frequency gamma waves that are said to modulate perception, consciousness and spiritual emergence.
So let's look at a bio-hack phenomenon that uses our tendency to sync to bring about changes in our mood and conscious states: it is known as binaural beats. This might sound like another dance sub-genre but is in fact a phenomenon discovered in 1839 by German researcher Heinrich Wilhelm Dove who noticed that when the brain receives different signals from the two ears separately, it tries to 'mix' them as if they were perceived together.
So in simple terms, if the left ear hears a low B note of around 100hz while the right ear hears a low C note of 104hz, the brain creates a 'beat' equivalent to 4hz which is its natural theta wave frequency associated with relaxation and the early stages of sleep.
The brain has to rework the two tones offered in binaural perception using a different part of the brain compared to monaural beats. This is the reason why the technique of binaural beats is unique and special in comparison to other methods of induction.
Wind this forward to today where the ubiquity of headphones and music production and manipulation software on laptops can - in theory - allow anyone with some musical and mathematical knowledge to create Binaural Beat compositions. And they have. Including me, the author!
What we end up with is an extraordinary biohack capable of allow us to change our brain states through music and beats.
Give it a try... but just be warned, most tracks (for a rather technical musical reason) target Theta waves which can make us sleepy quickly - so definitely don't operate heavy machinery or drive after or during a listen!!!
Binaural Beats can also take the edge of a bad situation like a packed tube. And finally, some find them hypnotic especially if you reduce sensory stimulation by covering your eyes with translucent material.
For now, keep an open mind and try out my composition 4hz 256 Reasons Why: which is available through most of the streaming services here.LAB, 9 months ago