Childhood Memories and Theta Brainwaves

As virtually everyone who uses a mind machine discovers, theta seems to trigger the sudden reliving or vivid remembering of long-forgotten childhood memories. One explanation for this link between theta and childhood is that, while adults rarely produce theta, children are in a theta state most of the time—up to the age of around six, children produce mostly theta waves. The amount of theta progressively decreases as the child grows into adulthood. In other words, children spend most of their time in what we adults would call a trancelike, altered state of consciousness, and one that is extremely open and receptive, highly conducive to the learning of new information and the creation of memories.

In recent years a large number of scientific studies have explored a phenomenon called state-bound or state-dependent learning. In a phenomenon called state-bound or state-dependent learning. In essence, they have found that things experienced in one state of consciousness are far more easily remembered later when we are once again in that same state. Things learned when we’re happy are remembered best when we’re happy; what we learn when cold is remembered best when we’re cold; and so on.

These findings provide an explanation for the appearance of childhood memories to adults who are in theta. Children spend most of their time in the theta state. But as adults, we rarely experience a true theta state. Most of us have a few seconds of it as we fall asleep, and that’s all. During those brief moments in theta, we may experience sudden flashes of memory, vivid images, odd disconnected ideas, but we’re quickly asleep. Virtually all of our memories from childhood, then, are state dependent—they’re laid down while we’re in one state, but it’s a state that we almost never experience as adults. To remember them, we have to get back to the state in which they were first created.

One of the characteristics of mind machines is that they are capable of putting people into the theta state and keeping them there fore long periods of time while they remain awake. Mind machines can put us back into the childlike theta state. That means that all those memories, creative ideas, spontaneous images, and integrative experiences that occur during theta become available to our conscious mind—we become consciously aware of what had been stored in our unconscious mind, and we remember it when we emerge from the theta state. This is one of the reasons that Thomas Budzynski has called one type of mind machine “a facilitator of unconscious retrieval.”

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