Synchrony: Maximum Efficiency of Information Transport

Synchrony: Maximum Efficiency of Information Transport

One of the ways scientists investigated peak brain states was to bring skilled meditators into the laboratory, paste electrodes all over their skulls, give them a button to press to signal when they were “there,” and record the activity on an electroencephalogram (EEG). The scientists found that when meditators were in their peak state, the brainwave activity throughout the whole brain fell into a state they called synchrony.

Now, whole-brain-wave synchrony is a very specific state. It does not mean simply that the whole brain produces dominant waves of the same frequency, such as 10 Hz alpha. If you visualize brain waves as a series of peaks and valleys, then synchrony occurs when brain waves reach their peak at the same time. When brain waves are “in sync,” their power increases. (Think of two waves joining together: They produce a larger wave.) So, when researchers noted that meditators produced whole-brain synchrony, what they saw was also an enormous increase in power or amplitude throughout the whole brain.

What are the effects of synchrony? One of the leading researchers into brain-wave synchrony, Dr. Lester Fehmi, of the Princeton Biofeedback Research Institute, points out that “synchrony represents the maximum efficiency of information transport through the whole brain.” This means that brain-wave synchrony produces a sharp increase in the effects of various brain-wave states. Fehmi notes that “phase synchrony . . . is observed to enhance the magnitude and occurrence of the subjective phenomena associated with alpha and theta” and of beta as well. Thus, for example, the phenomena associated with theta, such as vivid imagery, access to memory, spontaneous creative insights, and integrative experiences all are enhanced in “magnitude and occurrence” by whole-brain synchrony.

Some of the researchers and clinicians who have been using EEG “crossover point” training now believe that part of the extraordinary transformational powers of moving through that critical point where theta surpasses alpha is a result of brain-wave synchrony. William Beckwith observes that “The production of synchronized, coherent electromagnetic energy by the human brain at a given frequency leads to a ‘laser-like’ condition increasing the amplitude and strength of the brain waves.” He notes that

as clients learn to increase their alpha amplitude and produce theta waves without losing consciousness, a critical point is reached when theta amplitude begins to exceed alpha amplitude. Cross-lateral brainwave synchronization also increases (italics added), creating a more coherent system. At this point, there are profound alterations in client mood and behavior, [including] the seemingly miraculous resolution of complex psychological problems. . . . There is a sudden re-ordering of the entire personality in ways that cannot be readily explained by other models.

Many of the mind machines we will discuss later have been designed specifically to deliver stimulation to the whole brain in order to produce whole-brain synchronization.

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