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alpha waves

Kevin Spencer kspencer at s.psych.uiuc.edu
Tue May 6 01:55:27 EST 1997

siffert at shell. (Curt Siffert) writes:

>Can anyone tell me why alpha waves are considered a good thing?  I'm 
>trying to do some serious research on alpha waves (as well as delta,
>theta, beta, sre, and high beta), and everything that turns up on the
>web just keeps on talking about "peak performance" and how you can never
>have enough alpha.  It's annoying.  I am in an extremely high alpha 
>state all the time and it makes it very hard to concentrate and focus,
>and it also contributes to anxiety and problems with sleep, as well 
>as being a major mental block in creativity.  Now I'm concerned because
>I'm going through EEG Biofeedback to calm the alpha waves down and I 
>feel like I don't understand what is going on.  Can anyone tell me more 
>about alpha waves and how (when) it can be too much of a good thing?
>And/or direct me to some *good* resources about this sort of thing
>(that I don't need a degree in neuroscience to understand)?  Should 
>I consider seeing a neurologist about this?

Oh boy.  Alpha waves are alpha waves, and no value judgments should be
associated with them or any other type of brain activity. :)

But seriously, I think you have confused your brain states and brain
waves.  Alpha is only enhanced when you are awake but "resting".  I find
it difficult to believe that you are having anxiety and sleep problems
and are in a "high alpha" state.  It sounds like you have gotten involved
with mental practices that are very harmful to yourself.  My non-medical,
un-professional, but hopefully practical advice is to stop and go see a
good therapist.

Kevin Spencer
Cognitive Psychophysiology Laboratory and Beckman Institute
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
kspencer at s.psych.uiuc.edu

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