“Theta waves are one of the electrical patterns in the brain we see on a quantitative electroencephalogram (qEEG)–a test that measures electrical activity inside the brain,” says communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist Caroline Leaf, Ph.D., author of Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess.
“Theta waves have a frequency of 4-8 Hz. and are activated when we are being insightful or creative. It’s often referred to as the healing wave,” Leaf adds.
Theta waves are very prevalent in children, says Ilene S. Ruhoy, M.D., Ph.D., a board-certified neurologist and medical director for the EDS/Chiari Center at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Hewlett, New York. However, they are also seen in adults in a non-alert, drowsy state where awareness of the physical world is lessened (such as hypnosis).
The fact that these waves are visible in both light sleep stages as well as during focused tasks is what makes them so interesting.
“Theta waves are the dominant frequency in healing, high creative states, remembering emotional experiences (good and bad), memory retrieval, and encoding new memories into thoughts,” explains Leaf.