CHANGING OUR BRAINS WITH SCIENCE

 

Throughout the game, when your focus slips away for even a few moments, you make ridiculous mistakes that you usually never make. Your mechanical skills suddenly get sloppy, your reaction time slows down, and a sudden lack of brainpower ruins your ability to make intelligent decisions. 

 

It’s this lack of brainpower that causes those bad plays and makes you frustrated with yourself. You know you could have easily succeeded, killed the enemy, or clutched the round, but a lapse in mental energy was enough to make you throw the play and maybe even the entire game.

 

Now, most gamers are well aware of this issue. They understand that focus and mental clarity are critical if they want to maintain consistent peak performance.

 

But focus itself is a complex topic, one that I’ve been researching a lot lately. And while the answer to optimal focus is multi-layered, it often comes back to your brain’s electrical activity. If I were to put a bunch of electrodes on your head while you played your favorite game, I’d then be able to measure precisely when you lose focus. And being able to measure the brain’s activity in this way doesn’t only help us understand what focus is on a fundamental level, but also how we might be able to change our brains so that we can get more of it.

 

In fact, by understanding and influencing the electrical activity in our brains, we may be able to enhance our focus, confidence, and even reaction time on demand. 

 

And consider how powerful this would be for you. You’d be far more dominant during clutch situations, and far more capable of sustaining your attention throughout long gaming sessions.

 

So, let’s look at the science behind your brain and see how you can start enhancing it today…

 

 

WHAT ARE BRAINWAVES?

 

On a basic level, our brains are vast, complex networks of billions of neurons. And these neurons use electrical impulses to communicate with each other.

 

In fact, at any given time, millions of neurons are firing electrical signals creating a beautiful ocean of electricity across your brain.

 

As this happens, clusters of neurons in your mind begin to sense the activity of other clusters around them and start synchronizing their firing to enhance communication.

 

As this happens, the synchronized pulses begin to fire in repeating rhythms called neural oscillations. Or as we would commonly call them, brain waves.

 

But not all brain waves are the same…

 

 

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BRAINWAVES?

 

In 1924, a German psychiatrist named Hans Berger invented a device called an electro-encephalo-gram, or EEG device, to help measure and understand the activity happening inside our brains.

 

And using this device, we discovered that there are different types of brain waves, separated by their firing speed. 

 

What’s most interesting about measuring these brain waves is that it allowed us to discover how brainwaves change depending on what a person is doing. And generally, the higher frequency the wave and lower the amplitude, the more alert and awake you are.

 

But within the range, there are five core types of brain waves, each associated with different mental states.

 

  1. The slowest of these are delta waves, which are typically dominant during deep sleep.

 

  1. Slightly faster are theta waves, which are often associated with lighter sleep or being in a state of drowsy day-dreaming.

 

  1. The next step up is alpha waves. These are common when you’re awake but relaxed. Usually, those who meditate are trying to get into this mental state.

 

  1. Beta waves are even higher frequency and lower amplitude, and seem to occur when you’re actively engaged in mental activities, concentrating on learning something, and generally alert and focused.

 

  1. The smallest, fastest oscillations are gamma waves. They tend to arise when you’re hyper-focused on something and are considered critical in information processing and being in the flow state.

 

 

WHY CHANGE OUR BRAINWAVES?

 

So, different brainwaves are associated with various mental states.

 

And when it comes to not being able to focus or perform during ranked games, it likely comes down to an issue of undesired brain waves.

 

A great example is with those who have ADHD. From research, it seems that people with ADHD spend more time in the theta state than usual. While these brain waves may help with relaxation, day-dreaming, and even creativity, for those with ADHD, it means they struggle to produce faster Beta brainwaves, which are necessary for focus. 

 

And it’s likely that individuals who don’t have ADHD a similar issue on days when they just can’t focus and can’t shake off their brain fog.

 

But on the flip side, an over-abundance of beta waves can cause stress and anxiety. If you’re unable to snap out of this, it could mean being more prone to tilt, and burnout.

 

In other words, if we have low levels of individual brain waves, it can prevent us from being the best players we can be. And by enhancing specific brainwaves during certain activities, it can massively improve our results.

 

But how exactly can we change our brain waves to get more focus and enhanced performance?

 

Adhd and theta

– https://insights.ovid.com/pubmed?pmid=17016156

– https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1999-05982-009

– https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01000016

 

 

BRAIN ENTRAINMENT EXPLAINED

 

In 1665, the Dutch physicist and inventor of the pendulum clock Christiaan Huygens (hi-gans), discovered something extraordinary about his clocks. Whenever he placed two pendulum clocks close to each other, they would eventually synchronize their swings.

 

He would set them up with entirely different swinging patterns, leave them to swing for a day or so, and somehow as if communicating with each other, they would figure out how to start moving in sync with each other.

 

This strange phenomenon baffled people for years and rightly so. How is it that two completely separate objects can synchronize like this? Well, the answer to this question might lead to a method for controlling our brains. 

 

You see, as the pendulums move back and forth, sound pulses travel from clock to clock. The more out of sync they are, the more negative feedback energy they produced. As a result, one slows down while the other speeds up. Eventually, as they become more in sync, this energy feedback is reduced further and further until they are finally in sync. 

 

But what does this have to do with brain waves and improving your gaming performance?

 

When it comes to the brain, we might be able to have a similar level of influence. 

 

When the brain receives external stimuli at a similar frequency to natural brain waves, it can influence the oscillation in our mind, actively synchronizing them to the external frequency. And if we can control our brainwaves like this, we may be able to alter our level of energy, focus, and overall brain performance, on-demand. 

 

 

WHAT ARE BINAURAL BEATS & DO THEY WORK?

 

So the question then is HOW do we give our brains the optimal frequencies so that we can change our state of mind?

 

One method for presenting this frequency is through sound. 

 

Music is fundamentally an acoustic wave, in which the brain converts from sound vibrations to electrical signals. So it makes sense that we can use music at the right frequency to influence our brain waves, right?

 

Well, a popular type of music aims to do this, and it does so in an exciting way. What I’m referring to are binaural beats. 

 

If you search youtube for focus music or brain music of any kind, you’ll see a long list of binaural beats videos claiming to improve your studying, sleep, and meditation. But what’s so special about binaural beats, and how exactly do they work? 

 

In essence, binaural beats are an auditory illusion caused by introducing two different frequencies to each ear. In theory, if you feed a 200 Hertz frequency into the left ear and a 212 Hertz frequency into your right ear, your brain would perceive an auditory illusion of a beat oscillating back and forth. The frequency of the perceived oscillation would be based on each sound’s net difference – in this case, 12 Hertz, which mimics an Alpha Brain wave, and may put you in a calm and focused state. 

 

Thus by introducing tones into each ear with specific frequency variations, we can create auditory illusions that may mimic and influence our brainwaves.

 

But this is just the theory behind binaural beats. The real question is if they actually work… 

 

Fortunately for us, some research shows that they do influence specific brainwaves. In fact, a 2019 review of 22 studies found a significant link between more prolonged exposure to binaural beat tapes and reduced anxiety. 

 

And another study showed that exposure to beta-frequency binaural beats leads to an improvement in long-term memory. {while a theta-frequency binaural-beat actually lead to a reduced long-term memory during word recall.}

 

  And consider the benefits of this on your gameplay. By just plugging in headphones and turning on some binaural beats, you may be able to instantly reduce tilt and anxiety that builds up from frustrating ranked games. Or you might be able to enhance your ability to learn new game-knowledge so that you can become a more intelligent player.

 

 

THE CAVEAT OF BINAURAL BEATS

 

But there’s a caveat to this that’s worth mentioning. While binaural beats may follow an interesting theory, and create a hypnotizing audio illusion, they might be no more effective than regular music.

 

You see, almost all audible sounds can affect a person’s brain waves if it resembles the brain’s natural rhythm. And the brain doesn’t require a fancy auditory illusion to do this.

 

In fact, one study comparing binaural beats with regular beats found that they were both equally effective at changing brainwaves.

 

So binaural beats ARE effective, but they aren’t necessarily more effective than other music.

 

When it comes to influencing our brain waves, one study suggests that a critical factor beyond the type of music is how much we prefer that music. If you’re to listen to raw binaural beats and don’t enjoy how it sounds, then chances are the effect won’t be very significant.

 

 

THE OPTIMAL MUSIC FOR YOUR BRAIN

 

So what is the best alternative to binaural beats?

 

Well, some research suggests that one genre of music might be quite promising for greater focus and performance. A type of music called baroque music.

 

Baroque is a genre of classical music composed between 1600 and 1750. Think composers like Bach. 

 

Research shows that instrumental baroque music that is 50-80 beats per minute can enhance alpha brain waves, leading to deep concentration and enhanced learning.

 

In fact, in a study comparing baroque music to no music, they verified that it did, in fact, increase alpha-brain waves, leading to a 19.9% improvement on a complex memory task and lead to an 18.9% increase in reaction time. 

 

Another interesting observation in this study was that as the task difficulty and memory load increased, Baroque music was even more effective for improving working memory. And having more impact during more difficult mental tasks is huge for us. In esports, we need to keep track of many changing variables at once, so if a particular type of music can help us do this significantly better, we will instantly perform at a higher level.

 

But why does this type of music work so well?

 

It seems so useful due to the light moods, complex melodies, and low to medium tempos. With faster tempos or more emotional tones, we may increase our beta-waves, which could lead to more energy but less concentration. With vocals or more simple melodies, the music might get stuck in our heads, taking up the mental space that we need for our focus.

 

While there isn’t as much research on other types of music, the benefits likely apply outside of the baroque genre, which is excellent news if you’re not into classical music.

 

The criteria for this effect is just that it needs to have low to medium tempo, no lyrics, and light emotional tones. 

 

Other great alternatives are low-fi hip hop and similar types of instrumental study music. Over the past few years, these genres have become increasingly popular among students and, unsurprisingly, meet the criteria the baroque music highlights, including a tempo of 70-90 bpm. 

 

But as I mentioned earlier in the video, some research suggests that musical preference also plays a significant role. So, for the greatest effect, I’d recommend doing your own experimentation with different instrumental music to see which has the most significant benefit for you personally.

 

 

BETTER METHODS

 

But brain entrainment via audio is limited. Due to how your brain processes sound, it’s effects on our brainwaves aren’t as big as we’d like. And quite honestly, brainwaves are quite complex.

 

It’s not as though your brain has the same frequency patterns throughout the entire thing. Different areas of your brain are more commonly associated with specific brain waves. And the dominance of individual brain waves within each area of the brain will lead to different effects.

 

During an activity like engaging in a 1v1, you’ll have far different brain wave activity in each area of your brain then if you’re studying game-knowledge from a guide. 

 

And audio entrainment can’t target specific areas of the brain.

 

Fortunately, other technology might help us do this, and perhaps even work synergistically with audio entrainment to enhance our learning, focus, and reaction time.

 

But this is a topic we’ll explore more in-depth in the next video. 

 

But for now, focus on finding the optimal music that helps you reach a higher state of calm, focus, and attention. The result may be a significant boost in your performance, helping you focus deeper, dominate clutch situations, make better decisions, and upgrade your skills faster.

 

 

 

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