WHAT IS QEEG?
Electroencephalography (EEG) is the measurement of brainwaves. These waves are accessed at the scalp surface through an EEG with sensors that detect the activity and the brainwaves are recorded. qEEG is the Quantitative EEG. It is the analysis of the digitized EEG and is known as “Brain Mapping.”
qEEG is a refined analysis of the standard EEG visual interpretation that we use to understand brain activities. It is an invaluable tool that gives our clients an understanding of their inner responses in a measured, documented and visual map.
The measuring of the Quantitative Electroencephalography (qEEG) is done with a multi-electrode recording with a computer. This processed data is converted into color maps of brain functions; Brain Maps. The digital data is statistically analyzed by comparing the findings with known previously captured references, even the client’s history after multiple sessions.
The EEG and the derived qEEG can be interpreted and used by experts to view, evaluate and track brain function. This clinical tool provides a progressive comparative map to track changes in brain function as a result of interventions such as neurofeedback or medication.
QEEG BRAIN MAPPING
A qEEG brain map is an illustration of your state-of-mind. It gives us an objective assessment of how your brain works. In particular the qEEG creates a 3-D image that reconstructs your brain activity. We can your unique pattern of mental activity. We can see strengths and weaknesses. We can see if there is too little or too much activity. And, we can identify any areas that are not coordinating their activity the best they could. (color map)
Once we can see the location, intensity and reason for your struggles on a brain level, we can choose specific areas to train your brain to achieve your unique goals.
IS BRAIN MAPPING RELIABLE?
Brain mapping was introduced more than 30 years ago as a means to measure and diagnose brain function. It has become a primary tool in neuroscience. qEEG’s are used in research centers all over the world to study ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, depression and bipolar disorder, PTSD, anxiety disorders, learning disabilities, and more.
Here at Whole Life Recovery we use qEEG LoRETA Z-Score Neurometric Brain Mapping for both our assessments and to track your progress over your neurofeedback sessions. An EEG and qEEG are non-invasive and painless. They are much like a heart monitor, which only records your heart rate, the sensors only record the electrical activity of the brain.
As much as we can use this as a tool in your recovery, you will also find it interesting. You can actually see, on your own map, if a specific brain area is functioning poorly and improving over time. You can validate if you are having difficulty focusing and sustaining attention. We will be able to assist you in training your brain to work more efficiently and stable.
A qEEG can identify brainwaves; their amplitude, location and whether these patterns are typical or anomalous.
In addition it can show coherence (quality of communication between regions) and phase (thinking speed). All are crucial patterns involved in optimum mental functioning.
LoRETA (low resolution brain electromagnetic tomography)
Using LoRETA allows us to identify and train brainwave patterns from deep brain structures, using a standard sensor cap which is connected to advanced source-correlation software.
You will be able to see your current state, map you progress and actually train your entire brain network as a unit.
We compare these surface and deep brainwave readings to an FDA approved reference database (Z-score). Your clinician will use this information as an aid to determine which areas to train in order to best meet your goals.
WHAT ARE BRAINWAVES?
At the root of all our thoughts, emotions and behaviors is the communication between neurons within our brains. Brainwaves are produced by synchronized electrical pulses from masses of neurons communicating with each other.
BRAINWAVE DETECTION AND MEASUREMENT
Brainwaves are detected using sensors placed on the scalp. They are a continuous spectrum of consciousness but for purposes of measurement, they are divided into bandwidths to describe their functions:
DELTA being slow, loud and functional
GAMMA being fast, subtle and complex.
One helpful analogy is thinking of brainwaves as musical notes with the low frequency waves like a deeply penetrating drum beat and the higher frequency brainwaves are like a subtle high-pitched flute. Our brainwaves change according to what we’re doing and feeling. When slower brainwaves are dominant we can feel tired, slow, sluggish, or dreamy. The higher frequencies are dominant when we feel wired, or hyper-alert.
Brainwave speed is measured in Hertz (cycles per second) and they are dived into bands delineating slow, moderate, and fast waves. The descriptions that follow are only broad descriptions. In practice they are far more complex. They also reflect different aspects when they occur in different locations in the brain.
DELTA WAVES (.5 TO 3 HZ)
Delta brainwaves are the slowest but loudest brainwaves (low frequency and deeply penetrating, like a drum beat). They are generated in deepest meditation and dreamless sleep. Delta waves suspend external awareness and are the source of empathy. Healing and regeneration are stimulated in this state, and that is why deep restorative sleep is so essential to the healing process.
THETA WAVES (3 TO 8 HZ)
Theta brainwaves occur most often in sleep but are also dominant in the deep meditation. It acts as our gateway to learning and memory. In theta, our senses are withdrawn from the external world and focused on signals originating from within. It is that twilight state which we normally only experience fleetingly as we wake or drift off to sleep. In theta we are in a dream; vivid imagery, intuition and information beyond our normal conscious awareness. It’s where we hold our ‘stuff’, our fears, troubled history, and nightmares.
ALPHA WAVES (8 TO 12 HZ)
Alpha brainwaves are dominant during quietly flowing thoughts and in some meditative states. Alpha is the power of now, being here in the present. Alpha is the resting state for the brain. Alpha waves aid overall mental coordination, calmness, alertness, mind/body integration and learning.
BETA WAVES (12 TO 38 HZ)
Beta brainwaves dominate our normal waking state of consciousness when attention is directed towards cognitive tasks and the outside world. Beta is a fast activity; present when we are alert, attentive and engaged in problem solving, judgment, decision making. Beta is engaged in focused mental activity. Beta brainwaves are further divided into three bands; Low Beta (Beta1, 12-15Hz), can be thought of as a ‘fast idle, or musing. Beta (aka. Beta2, 15-22Hz), as high engagement. Hi-Beta (Beta3, 22-38Hz), is highly complex thought, integrating new experiences, high anxiety, or excitement. Continual high frequency processing is not a very efficient way to run the brain, as it takes a tremendous amount of energy. It would be exhausting.
GAMMA WAVES (38 TO 42 HZ)
Gamma brainwaves are the fastest of brain waves (high frequency, like a flute), and relate to simultaneous processing of information from different brain areas. It passes information rapidly and, as the subtlest of the brainwave frequencies, the mind has to be quiet to access it. Gamma was traditionally dismissed as ‘spare brain noise’ until researchers discovered it was highly active when in states of universal love, altruism, and the ‘higher virtues.’ Gamma rhythms modulate perception and consciousness, disappearing under anesthesia. Gamma waves are above the frequency of neuronal firing so how it is generated remains a mystery. The presence of Gamma relates to expanded consciousness and spiritual emergence.
WHAT BRAINWAVES MEAN TO YOU?
Our brainwave profile and our daily experience of the world are inseparable. When our brainwaves are out of balance, there will be corresponding problems in our emotional or neuro-physical health. Research has identified brainwave patterns associated with all sorts of emotional and neurological conditions.
Over-arousal in certain brain areas is linked with anxiety disorders, sleep problems, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, impulsive behavior, anger/aggression, agitated depression, chronic nerve pain and spasticity. Under-arousal in certain brain areas leads to some types of depression, attention deficit, chronic pain and insomnia. A combination of under-arousal and over-arousal is seen in cases of anxiety, depression and ADHD.
Instabilities in brain rhythms correlate with tics, obsessive-compulsive disorder, aggressive behavior, rage, bruxism, panic attacks, bipolar disorder, migraines, narcolepsy, epilepsy, sleep apnea, vertigo, tinnitus, anorexia/bulimia, PMT, diabetes, hypoglycemia and explosive behavior.
ALTERING YOUR BRAINWAVES
By rule of thumb, any process that changes your perception changes your brainwaves. Chemical interventions such as medications or recreational drugs are the most common methods to alter brain function; however brainwave training is also very effective.
Over the long term traditional eastern methods, such as meditation and yoga, train your brainwaves into balance. Of the newer methods, brainwave entrainment is an easy, low-cost method to temporarily alter your brainwave state. If you are trying to solve a particular difficulty or fine-tune your brainwave function, state-of-the-art brain training methods like neurofeedback deliver targeted, quick and lasting results.
WHAT IS BRAINWAVE ENTRAINMENT?
Brainwave entrainment (aka. Brainwave music) is a method to stimulate the brain into entering a specific state by using a pulsing sound, light, or electromagnetic field. The pulses elicit the brain’s ‘frequency following’ response, encouraging the brainwaves to align to the frequency of a given beat.
This ‘frequency following’ response of brainwave entrainment can be seen in action with those prone to epilepsy. If a strobe flashes at their seizure frequency, the brain will ‘entrain’ to the flashing light resulting in a seizure. On the positive side, this same mechanism is commonly used to induce many different brainwave states, such as a trance, for enhanced focus, relaxation, and meditation or sleep induction. The brainwave entrainment effectively pushes the entire brain into a certain state.
Brainwave entrainment works for almost everyone. It is a tested, successful, accessible way to lead your mind into states that you might usually have difficulty reaching, allowing you to experience what those states feel like.
Any stable frequency evokes a cortical response. The brain synchronizes its dominant brainwave frequency with that of the external stimulus. This is called Brainwave Entrainment.
DO WE USE BRAINWAVE MUSIC?
We rarely use brainwave music therapeutically. It is a rather imprecise compared to modern brain training methods.
Both brainwave entrainment and neurofeedback deal with brainwaves, but the similarity stops there. Entrainment pushes your whole brain into a pre-determined state, while neurofeedback teaches you how to move specific parts of your brain on your own. It is the difference between pushing the brain into a given position, and skills building so you can move it there yourself.
There is a lot of marketing hype around brainwave entrainment. It is sold with promises of increasing IQ, promoting weight loss, ‘mind-tripping,’ enhancing creativity, concentration, inducing spiritual states and more. While these claims are not entirely true, they are not altogether false either. In practice, they are based off an overly simplistic view of how the brain and the brainwaves function.
We are all different, especially when it comes to the distribution of our brainwaves. People are very seldom deficient in a certain brainwave type in all areas of their brain. Usually the distribution is much spottier with excess in one area and a deficiency in another. Boosting a certain brainwave state may be beneficial for one person, and emotionally uncomfortable for another. Without knowing each person’s starting position, entrainment can be quite ‘hit and miss’.
Brainwave entrainment could leave the client with unwanted side effects or discomfort. This is why we use qEEG brain map to see what your brain’s strengths and weaknesses are, and see what (if any) brainwaves could use some encouragement.
The brain does not operate in just one single frequency; the full spectrum of brainwave frequencies are always running, all the time. The dominant frequency determines our mental state – and entrainment temporarily shifts our mental state by boosting one frequency to be louder than the others.
Brainwave entrainment is nothing new. Ceremonial chambers acoustically tuned to specific brainwave frequencies have been found dating back to the Bronze Age, and the ancient Greeks used flickering sunlight shining through a spinning wheel to induce altered states. Since the 1970’s, a wealth of brainwave entrainment techniques have developed using computer encoded audio beats, strobe lights, or low-energy electromagnetic fields.