Gamma brain waves are the range/band of frequency patterns of brain wave that measure between 40 -100 Hz. Gamma brain waves overlaps with beta waves at the range of 25-40 Hz. Gamma wave pattern of brain electrical activities was identified recently. There are 4 basic types of brain waves – alpha (8-12 Hz), beta (12-40 Hz), theta (4 – 8 Hz), and delta (1 – 4 Hz). Each brain wave type dominates one state of mind consciousness (from full alertness to deep unconsciousness) with synchrony (simultaneous electrical activities of more than one brain waves) (see post “brain Waves and Memory” for more detail about the alpha , beta, theta, delta brain waves and their relationship to memory, cognition and behavior). Band of Gamma waves and their properties were characterized later than the 4 basic types of brain waves due to the technical limitations of analog EEG (electroencephalography). Analog EEG can not measure or record brain waves with frequency above 40 Hz. Gamma wave pattern has to be detected using digital EEG. Since the discovery of gamma waves pattern, its importance in learning, memory, linguistic processing and other cognitive functions has been recognized. Gamma brain wave differs from other brain waves in several ways:
- it is the fastest brain waves
- It has the smallest amplitude, however
- It is highly synchronized and coherent, showing strengthened neuroplasticity and simultaneous firing of networks of neurons. Gamma brain wave is said to be responsible for the binding property of the cognitive function. Binding is brain’s ability to combine the perception of objects, background, abstract and emotional features into one single experience.
- It is the most widespread brain waves that many areas of brain regions are activated at the same time. Gamma wave appears to be originated in thalamus and moves from the back of the brain to the front and back again 40 times per second
- It is correlated to the most active consciousness of brain activities of peak mental and physical performance – and is broadly associated with cognition, information processing, attention and memory
- it are not associated with stress and anxiety whereas beta wave activities can be induced by stress and anxiety. Gamma wave is said to be the anti-depressant brain wave and is associated with the mood state of happiness, calm and peace.
- it is an important tool with practical and beneficial applications
Elite athletes, top-notch musicians and high achievers in all fields produce far more gamma waves than average. Low amounts of gamma brainwave activity have been linked to learning difficulties, impaired memory and cognitive function. 40 Hz frequency of gamma wave has been implicated in memory recall function. The 40 Hz is known to regulate working memory processes. Faster memory recall and more vivid sensory experience are associated with increased gamma wave activities in the brain.
Gamma waves are inducible and people with low or average level of gamma waves are trainable to produce more gamma waves. Increased gamma wave activates are observed during many professional meditation procedures. Neurobiofeedback, binaural beats and meditations are common techniques and programs to stimulate gamma wave activities in the brain. Clinical studies have revealed the positive correlation between gamma wave stimulation and cognitive enhancement. Gamma wave treatment also is reported to reduce and prevent migraine.