Alpha Waves and Meditation - III

Scientific understanding of the effects of alpha waves on one’s thinking.

6/16/20232 min read

Alpha waves and Meditation


Alpha waves reflect a mechanism of inhibiting control in the brain. When an individual relaxes, it is observed that irrelevant or distracting sensory inputs are inhibited, allowing the individual to concentrate. But when disrupted, excessive or insufficient output of the alpha waves affects the balance of relaxation and awakened mind. But according to one’s mind, the ability to restore further restores to the original state of the output of the alpha waves.

It is proposed that increased alpha wave activity (relaxed states with focus and concentration) suppresses a network of brain regions called the Default Mode Network (DMN) primarily responsible for fully awakened mind state.

There is another network called Frontoparietal Control Network (FPCN), which includes the prefrontal cortex and parietal cortex, involved in cognitive control processing, attention control and working memory. FPCN’s critical role is directing cognitive resources within the network towards task relevant information and filtering out distractions.

Alpha waves are thought to modulate the activity within the FPCN, inhibiting irrelevant information and distractions for more focus, concentration and relaxed state.

There is a hypothesis that says alpha oscillations(waves) arise from synchronized activity between the thalamus which regulates incoming sensory information and the cortex which processes and integrates this information. The thalamus is a crucial relay station in the brain that filters and regulates sensory information before it reaches the cortex.

It has been proposed that the thalamus plays a role in generating alpha waves by coordinating the rhythmic synchronization between thalamic nuclei and the cortex. The thalamus helps regulate the flow of sensory inputs, allowing for selective attention and concentration on relevant stimuli. The hypothesis is called Thalamocortical Rhythm Hypothesis.

Located at the back of the brain called Occipital Cortex which is associated with visual processing, It is a prominent site for alpha wave generation, and alpha activity in this region is often observed during periods of relaxation and closed-eye rest. The occipital alpha activity is thought to reflect the disengagement of visual processing during states of internal focus, allowing individuals to concentrate on mental tasks.

There are other hypotheses and other roles in different parts of the other regions. But these above written explanations will help you understand, in a way, how these regions process the information and control the activities done by the alpha waves.

Later in part 04 will discuss the meditational practices or breathing techniques for attaining relaxed states.