General Information about Alpha Brain Waves:
The normal brainwave in the electroencephalogram of a person who is awake but relaxed are known as alpha waves which are electromagnetic oscillations that occurs with a frequency of 8-12 hertz and arise from coherent electrical activity of human brain cells. Alpha waves are also termed as Berger’s wave based on scientist who invented EEG. Alpha waves are certain category of brain waves which are observed through and MEG -magnetoencephalorgraphy or EEG – Electroencephalography and they usually develop from occipital lobe at time of relaxation using closed eyes. They usually develop from occipital lobe when a person is awake and relaxed with closed eyes.
Alpha waves get reduced when you are sleeping drowsy or have your eyes opened. Alpha waves were considered to represent the visual cortex activity in idle state in past. But with modern research, it is debated that they suppress regions of cortex which are not in use or and they generally take part in network communication and coordination. The occipital alpha waves generally increase during time when your eyes remain closed and this is when the EEG signals emitted from brain are very strong. An alpha-like variant known as mu wave is observed in central scalp (motor cortex) which is decreased with movement. Alpha waves start appearing only after 3 years of age.
Alpha waves and the history behind it:
Hans Berger, a famous neurologist from Germany and founder of EEG discovered Alpha waves long back. Berger documented alpha waves followed beta waves and he was interested towards blockage of alpha waves when eyes are opened by a person when there is decrease in alpha waves and increase in beta waves. Since he invented the alpha waves, they are also termed as Berger’s wave.
Berger got some ideas based on the discovery by Pravdich-Neminski, a famous physiologist from Eastern Europe that made use of string galvanometer for creating the photograph of electrical activity in the brain of dog. Based on similar methods, Berger was able to confirm the presence of electrical signals in human brain and it was demonstrated through stimulation of patients suffering from skull damage and observing their brains for electrical activity. Then he stopped the stimulus method and started to measure the natural electrical signals in brain. Alpha wave was the 1st natural electrical wave in brain which was documented by Berger. In spite of his smartness, he was meticulous in collecting his data for proving his inventions and did not publish the inventions till he collected enough data for five years. The initial findings about alpha waves were published in journal Archiv fur Phsyciatrie in 1931. He faced ridicule and laughter for his invention on EEG and his further discoveries of alpha and brain waves. His invention was not accepted till he got recognition from Lord Adrian, a popular physiologist who was interested with his discovery on alpha waves.
Alpha waves generally got widespread approval and popularity during 1960 and 1970 with the introduction of biofeedback theory which is related to brain waves. Using this feedback, which is a specific method of neuro-feedback, which is associated with alpha waves, is witting induction of alpha waves by a person. There were 2 famous scientists in US who analyzed through concept with help of different experiments. Dr. Joe Kamiya, a famous scientist working at Chicago University, found that certain people had the inborn potential to discern when they created alpha waves and was able to improve the production of these waves through will power. Such individuals got encouraged through reward system started by Kamiya. Dr. Barry Sterman was another primogenitor of biofeedback who was based from University of California which is in Los Angeles. He worked in analyzing the brain waves originated from Cats and noticed that when cats were rained to recoup motor movement, their brains released mu or SMR which are waves have similar pattern as alpha waves. They developed a reward system to make cats reach this state easily. Then the US air force asked him to test impact of jet fuel which caused seizures in human beings. This fuel was tested on cats which were trained previously and found that they had less impact on the trained cats when compared to non-trained cats. This alpha wave biofeedback got increasing popularity with suppression of seizures and also in treating depression.
Example of Alpha Brainwave: