Functions of the Five Different Brain Waves


The brain is an electrochemical organ. The electrical activity that emanates from the brain comes in the form of brainwaves. There are five main categories of brainwaves that are experienced by all human beings and are consistent across all countries and cultures. They are:

  • Beta waves
  • Alpha waves
  • Theta waves
  • Delta waves
  • Gamma waves
Specifics of the Individual Brainwaves
  • Beta Waves

    Beta waves have a low amplitude but are the fastest of the four brain waves. We emit Beta waves when the brain is aroused and engaged in mental activities.For example when we are in conversation with another person we would be in a Beta state. If we were teaching, speaking, or engaged with our work these would all be Beta states. Typically Beta waves will range in frequency from 15 to 40 cycles a second.

  • Alpha Waves

    According to frequency order Alpha brainwaves are next. They are much slower than the Beta waves and have a higher amplitude. Alpha waves represent non-arousal and calmness. When someone takes time out to rest or meditate they are typically in an Alpha state. It is when we calm our mind and feel peaceful. Alpha waves can range in frequency from 9 to 14 cycles.

  • Theta Waves

    Theta waves are even slower than the Alpha waves and have higher amplitude. Theta waves can be difficult to accomplish because they require a complete break from our conscious reality. Sometimes when we daydream we are in a Theta state. Most of us have experienced times when we simply blank out from the world, where we are daydreaming or perhaps driving and suddenly realize we can’t remember the last ten minutes of the drive. Theta waves are often induced by things of a repetitious nature when our actions become so automatic that our mind disengages. Often great ideas will flow while experiencing Theta waves and there are many positive healing benefits to being in a Theta state. The frequency range of Theta waves is typically between 5 and 8 cycles per second.

  • Delta Waves

    We experience Delta waves when we are in deep dreamless sleep. Our brain frequency in this state is very slow and of the greatest amplitude.The frequency range is usually somewhere between 1.5 to 4 cycles per second. To give you an idea of how low of a frequency this is… if the frequency should reach zero we would be brain dead. So it is about as slow as one can get without damage to our brains.

  • Gamma Waves
    Some researchers do not distinguish gamma waves as a unique class but instead include them in with beta brain waves.  In the past gamma waves were not researched to the same extent as the other four brain waves.  Today they have gained more popularity and are known to be associated with perception and consciousness.  Gamma waves can be between 26 and 70 Hz but most often corresponds to frequencies of 40 Hz or higher.  It has been shown that gamma waves are typically present during the process of awakening as well as during active rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

Summing up the Brainwave Frequencies

During the day we are usually in a Beta state. When we go to bed and possibly read a book for awhile we will likely be in a low Beta state. Once we turn the lights off and close our eyes our brainwaves will begin to descend from Beta, to Alpha and eventually to Theta. Once we fall deep asleep we will experience the Delta waves. Gamma waves are present when we are awakening from sleep as well as during REM sleep.

Once you have knowledge of the specific brainwave states you can then make use of them to your benefit. For example we now know that our most active work needs to be done in the Beta state but our most creative work will likely be most productive while we are in the Alpha state.

Many people want to experience the Theta brainwaves on a regular basis. The shift in consciousness that occurs while in this state and the abundant healing properties of Theta waves are enough to make any person want to be able to experience them “on command’. Unfortunately they are not so easy to achieve. Many years of practicing yoga or meditation has been known to help many experience Theta brainwaves. This however takes a lot of time and discipline.

Using Binaural Beats to Work with Our Brainwaves

Binaural beats and brainwave entrainment have been known to work directly with our brainwave frequencies. A good binaural beats recording can bring us into the Theta state almost instantly.

Find more information on binaural beats as well as where to find good quality sources for brainwave audio MP3’s and CD’s.

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