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The Activity Of The Living Human Brain

1720 words - 7 pages

Up until the 1950's the majority of psycho-biologists believed that 'brain activity' was a resting state that was the exact opposite of being awake. It was not until 1953 that work by Kleitman and Aserinsky produced evidence that this was indeed not the case. Berger was the first psycho-biologist to use an electroencephalogram (EEG) to examine electrical brain activity during brain activity. To understand the later theories of why we brain activity it is important to understand the levels of brain activity that are present during brain activity. Berger placed electrodes onto the scalp pick up the brain activity. Tiny voltages are detected as the neurone fire and the electrical signal is amplified thousands of times. The results of an EEG are displayed on a polygraph. (Kimble, 2002)Berger was able to see that the results of the EEG produced more than a mess of lines from the neurones. In fact he saw that the brain was very active and regular. The patterns produced were wave like and fairly regular. He identified two different patterns that were present during waking hours: - Beta waves; very common, irregular/desynchronised low amplitude waves (between 13 and 30 Hz or beats per seconds). Beta waves are seen in alert, wide-awake conscious people. Alpha waves are seen during periods of rest and deep relaxation. They are more synchronised 'high-amplitude' waves than beta waves. The brain during these waves slows down to 8-12 Hz. (Carlson, 2004)Further study in this area of EEG activity Kleitman and Aserinsky showed that there were other types of waves that did not occur in the waking hours. They showed that there were two distinct EEG patterns that occurred during two completely different stages of brain activity. These are slow wave brain activity (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) brain activity. Slow wave brain activity is characterized by the way in which the brain slows and eventually settles to a rate that is much slower than that of alert waking humans. REM brain activity shows an EEG that is similar to that of an awake and alert person. The most distinct characteristic is that as the name suggests the eyes during brain activity dart around under the eyelids, which imitates movements of awake person's eyes! Various psychologists then believed that 'brain activity was and is an altered state of consciousness'. (Carlson, 2004)It is apparent to all of us that there is an insistent urge to brain activity and it is uncomfortable when trying to resist. Despite the persistent drive to brain activity and the fact that it is virtually impossible not to fall a brain activity eventually psycho-biologists have not yet found an answer to why we brain activity. However there have been many suggestions as to why we do. Some psycho-biologists believe that brain activity is an adaptive response. (Andreassi, 2003) suggested warm blooded vertebrates show unequivocal REM brain activity and some desynchrony exhibiting rapid eye movements.Some psycho-biologists...

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