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Mysterious Brain Waves: What Function Do They Perform?

Mysterious Brain Waves: What Function Do They Perform?

Our brain is one of the most interesting and one of the less studied things in the world. Desiring to find answers to the question of brain’s work, scientists distinguished special brain waves. So, what function do these waves perform in our brain?

Image Credit: masstlc.org

Brain is a mysterious structure, and researchers still have a lot of questions about its functioning. It manages the actions of the body with the help of neurons, synapses and electrical impulses, but still we cannot fully understand the whole process of its work. But we know for sure that it helps to process sensory information that comes from the sense organs, as well as to plan further actions, coordinate movements, make decisions and perform the function of thinking.

Scientists use electroencephalography to record electrical brain activity.  The researchers record the discharges of individual neurons using thin electrodes. After recording, the received information is analyzed, with the help of a spectral analysis, and after that the kind of waves that the brain uses to perform its activity can be identified.

Beta waves influence working memory

The researchers from the USA have found out that our brain controls the process of thinking with the help of special low-frequency waves known as beta waves. During the research, the experts studied the brain activity of volunteers who had to eject some special pieces of information from their memory. The results showed that the brain used beta waves while skipping from one memory to another. These results proved the assumption of the scientists that beta waves serve as a kind of a barrier for our working memory. They help to filter information and decide what data will be kept there and what data will be removed to let a person think of something else. So, beta waves help our brain to cope with the present situation and select the information we need.

Moreover, the scientists have also found out how way gamma and beta waves are connected. They state that gamma waves have an ability to obtain and coordinate sensory information. It was stated that beta waves and gamma waves are interconnected and when, for example, beta waves are active, gamma waves are passive and vice versa.

Brain waves help us to remember information

In 2015, a research the aim of which was to find out the role of brain waves in the process of remembering was conducted. In the experiment, monkeys were shown pairs of pictures, so that strong links had to be established between some images. If the monkey correctly guessed that the objects depicted are related to each other, it received some treat. At the same time, researchers registered the activity of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex; they are the two brain regions that play a key role in training. It turned out that the frequency of waves in them varied depending on whether the monkey gave the correct or incorrect answer. In the situation when the result matched the expectation, beta waves were observed. And if the answer was wrong, the brain used theta waves.

According to the results, the scientists stated that the right answer stimulates beta waves in the brain that, in their turn, strengthen the formed neural chains. And if the answer is not correct, theta waves delete the wrong memory.

Our brain is an incredible thing. Scientists are trying to find regularities of its functioning. They have already found that special waves such as beta waves, gamma waves and theta waves influence our ability to think and remember. Of course, the process of remembering is too complicated to be reduced simply to the alternation of several types of waves. Why one type of waves replaces another, what mechanism connects this replacement with the right or wrong memory, the researchers still have to find out.

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