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alpha waves

Curt Siffert siffert at shell.
Mon May 19 03:06:35 EST 1997

Dag Stenberg <stenberg at cc.Helsinki.FI> sayeth:
>I received this posting only today (while I have seen several of the
>answers previously). This starts to get intriguing. What do you mean 
>by "getting beyond alpha"? Or rather, what does the "clinician" mean 
>by "getting beyond alpha"?
>Dag Stenberg

    Well, I'm not going to start putting words in my clinician's 
    mouth, but the way that I understand it so far (still learning)
    is as follows.  They do a head map to start out, which is 
    putting an electrode at a place on the head and measuring the
    activity, and then taking it off and putting it on a new place,
    etc... for something like 22 different locations.  I'm aware
    of the four basic brainwaves, although this also measures 
    "high beta" and another set that seems to lie between alpha
    and beta (SRE or something).  I assume these are just further
    breakdowns of Hz ranges.

    It's not classic eeg output - while the x-axis measures passing 
    time, the y-axis doesn't measure amplitude or whatever is standard
    on an eeg (I would love for someone to fill me in on some of this
    missing information, so far I've only gotten skepticism without
    information).  It's been explained to me that in this system, the
    y-axis instead measures:

>In response to one of your questions, the axis is microvolts, or, the
>square root of the power of the signal within the specified Fast-Fourier
>bin.  Power is the direct output of an FFT.

    I'm not really sure what that means in terms of a high readout, like
    if a high readout means the waves have high amplitude or what.  But
    someone wanted to know what it measured, so there's the answer.

    People should be able to move from one state to another relatively
    easily, to be able to concentrate when need be, relax when need be,
    fall asleep, wake up, etc.  That's not true with me - severe
    insomnia, and then after falling asleep, just as much difficulty
    waking back up again all the way.  And when I'm awake, difficulty
    concentrating and focusing in general.

    The system draws a correlation between these states and the 
    brainwaves.  For instance, if one is stuck in alpha, it would 
    be very difficult for him or her to achieve these other states 
    of consciousness.

    One of the analyses that the machine does is the dominant frequency.
    I do not know how this is measured.  But it has something to do 
    with what I mention above - evidently, the readout would ideally
    show all states being entered in a fairly consistent rhythm.  And
    mine is stuck on alpha just about all the time.

    "Getting beyond alpha" just means having the ability to more 
    flexibly go from state to state.  If you thought I meant something
    like going into some astral state and projecting myself to the
    planet Glogg, sorry to disappoint you.  =)
    What I'm looking for is more insights about how these brainwaves
    work, what kind of treatments there are, what neurological studies
    are being done, etc.  I want to know if making an appointment with
    a neurologist might be helpful or warranted, in addition to this
    other treatment I'm going through (it's more of a study than 
    treatment, actually, I am journaling the experience for them and
    keeping records so they can document it).  I don't want to go 
    too much into my personal medical history on a public forum, but
    given that the traditional routes of psychology and treatment for
    depression have already been explored, are there any other more
    uncommon neurological conditions or explanations that could give
    me some clues?  

    Any information, viewpoints or help appreciated.


Curt Siffert
siffert at tangrams dot com
Magic is to science as metaphors are to literals.

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