Neurons are fundamental units of the brain and nervous system, and are the cells responsible for communicating, receiving, sending out, and relaying electrical signals to different regions of the brain. Brain waves are synchronized oscillations of neural activity in the central nervous system and are driven by the mechanisms from individual neurons or the interaction between multiple neurons. Brain waves are incredibly important, as they contribute to understanding the mechanisms of attention, consciousness, perception, memory, and other cognitive processes.
There are 5 main brain wave frequencies that are measured by an EEG which include delta (0.5-4 Hz), theta (4-8 Hz), alpha (8-14 Hz), beta (14-30 Hz), and gamma (>30 Hz). Each set of frequencies are associated with different states of activity and consciousness within the brain. Gamma waves are the fastest brain waves and occur when an individual is highly alert and conscious while also having high levels of thought and focus. If the brain produces lower levels of gamma waves, memory and learning issues may arise. Issues with mental ability, attention span, and concentration may also occur.
Recent research has shown that the amplitudes of gamma waves may be a contributing factor of depression. Gamma rhythms may also provide more information regarding one’s major depressive status. Non-pharmacologic treatment for depression, such as neurofeedback and biofeedback, point to gamma rhythms as key indicators of treatment success. Neurofeedback is used to modulate and monitor gamma waves while simultaneously inducing therapeutic cognitive changes. As neurofeedback changes gamma waves and signaling, it may affect brain regions compromising the default mode network (DMN), whose functional activation is enhanced during major depression. In the DMN, gamma rhythms are suppressed when an individual carries out an external demanding task.
The examination of the link between gamma oscillations and their link to major depression is still being studied, and more literature and experimentation needs to be done within this realm of research. Further research needs to be conducted to verify and to better understand the role of gamma oscillations in major depression as well as other psychiatric conditions.
Past human EEG studies have shown low frequency bands, theta and alpha, to be promising candidate biomarkers that contribute to major depression. Monitoring and measuring a combination of brain wave frequencies is superior to monitoring only one in isolation. At BiofeedbackWORKS, our state-of-the-art software includes modalities such as qEEG guided 19 channel surface, deep structure sLoretta, and z-score training that measure multiple brain waves simultaneously, including asymmetry, phase, coherence, absolute power, and relative power.
Another modality we use at BiofeedbackWORKS is the Vielight, which is a photo biomodulation device that helps heighten gamma and alpha waves. Benefits of using this device include improved focus, increased memory encoding, and elevated calmness. Studies have shown that there is a difference in gamma rhythms between control individuals and those who have major depression and using the Vielight. Our facility has a wide range of neurofeedback modalities that can help mitigate symptoms of depression, and we are getting ready to roll out a brand new Brain Body Suite where our clients can subscribe to a monthly membership for unlimited access for several brain training gadgets, including the Vielight!
Fitzgerald, P. J., & Watson, B. O. (2018, September 4). Gamma oscillations as a biomarker for major depression: An emerging topic. Nature News. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.nature.com/articles/s41398-018-0239-y
Larson, J. (2020, June 22). Gamma brain waves: Uses, purpose, benefits, function, more. Healthline. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/gamma-brain-waves
WebMD. (n.d.). Gamma brain waves: What they are and how they benefit you. WebMD. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/brain/what-to-know-about-gamma-brain-waves#:~:text=Gamma%20waves%20are%20the%20fastest,from%2030%20to%2080%20Hertz.