The Science of
Brain States

NeuroLight uses light and
sound to reproduce
optimal brain states — but
what are brain states?

A brain state is the state of the brain that can be detected and recorded, which correlates with a distinctive mental state that is a state of the mind. Mental states include wakefulness, sleep, concentration, state of flow, and others.1 While in a specific state, the activity in the brain produces signature brainwave patterns. Non-invasive techniques, such as electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalography (MEG), or functional MRI (fMRI) can be used to record these patterns. Many conventional approaches to analyzing this data consider the activity at locations across the brain independently. But recent advances in data analysis let us decipher additional information from neuroimaging data.2

Decoding Brain States

We posit that brainwaves are neural correlates of many mental states. Brain states are identified by their brainwave signatures, the unique temporal and spatial patterns of electrical oscillations of neurons in the brain. Characteristic signatures indicate different brain states.

Rest & Sleep

Delta Brainwave Signature

Delta brainwaves are low frequency oscillations that most often occur during deep sleep. When Delta brainwaves are dominant cortical signatures, it is indicative of deep sleep. Delta brainwaves are essential for restoration, rejuvenation, and consolidation of short-term memory into long-term memory.

Theta Brainwave Signature

Theta waves occur in the beginning of sleep cycle, and they indicate of falling asleep.

Thoughtfulness & Focus

Alpha Brainwave Signature

Alpha brainwaves indicate a person is awake and alert, but doing a restful, thoughtful activity. This could be reading, praying, or relaxing in an awake state. Alpha waves can occur when reading before bed, maintaining a journal, or doing other activities to wind down from the day before sleeping. Alpha waves occur during relaxation or when eyes are closed.

Beta Brainwave Signature

Beta brainwaves occur when working, thinking, doing homework or hobbies that require active attention. Since our waking hours are packed with things that need cognitive attention, creativity and focus, Beta brainwaves are the most common type observed in brain scans.

Through neuromodulation and the principles of brain entrainment, NeuroLight is able to reproduce optimal brain states.

1. Gervasoni et al., 2004 Northoff, 2013 Tononi et al., 1994
2. Haynes, JD., Rees, G. Decoding mental states from brain activity in humans. Nat Rev Neurosci 7, 523–534 (2006).

How NeuroLight Reproduces Brain States

The science behind imparting complex recorded brainwave patterns with light and sound to reproduce optimal brain states.

A pilot study conducted by NeuroLight in collaboration with the Neuromodulation Lab at The City College of New York seems to confirm the reproduction of sleep states through neuromodulation and brainwave entrainment. Additional studies on sleep and other brain states are currently in progress.

What is Neuromodulation and How Does it Work?

Neuromodulation is simply the targeted stimulation of nerves to produce natural biological responses and alter signals to the brain. Stimulation methods can include electromagnetic pulses or chemical agents. By targeting specific nerves, neuromodulation can inhibit pain signals, stimulate previously inactive neural impulses and more. And neuromodulation therapies can significantly improve patients’ lives, providing alternatives to long-term drug therapies that can result in tolerance development, addiction, adverse side effects, and may be more cost effective.1

What is Brainwave Entrainment?

Brainwave entrainment is the natural synchronization of brainwaves to rhythmic external stimuli, similar to how pendulum clocks hanging on the same wall will synchronize with one another. Scientists have observed this synchronization of brainwaves happening with flickering lights,2 rhythmic music3 and more.

Reproducing Brain States

There is a four-step process for reproducing optimal brain states: electrical activity of the brain in a desired state is recorded with electroencephalography (EEG), (2) cortical signatures characteristic of specific brain state are extracted from the recording, (3) these signatures are inverted into a waveform, which is then modulated on light and sound, and (4) the modulated light and sound are used to stimulate the subject who desires to achieve the specific brain state using a NeuroLight NeuroMask™ to achieve brain entrainment.

Our hypothesis is that through brain entrainment, we can reproduced the same cortical signatures and, ultimately, the same brain state as in the donor. The science supporting this simple process, however, is revolutionary.

How NeuroLight Differs from Other Neuromodulation

NeuroLight’s technology works by combining the neuromodulation and the principles of brain entrainment. What makes NeuroLight unique is the use of recorded brainwave signatures from actual individuals to reproduce brain states. By applying the targeted stimulation of neuromodulation to entrain — or naturally synchronize — a person’s brainwaves with those of a recorded brain state, either from the same individual or another person.

Other neuromodulation devices use simplified, synthesized frequencies. But by using naturally occurring, complex frequencies recorded during the desired brain state, NeuroLight may be more effective at reproducing those states.

To learn more, read “Replicating Cortical Signatures May Open the Possibility for “Transplanting” Brain States via Brain Entrainment” by NeuroLight founder, Alexander Poltorak


2. Notbohm, Annika; Kurths, Jürgen; Herrmann, Christoph S. (2016). "Modification of Brain Oscillations via Rhythmic Light Stimulation Provides Evidence for Entrainment but Not for Superposition of Event-Related Responses". Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 10: 10. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2016.00010

3. Thaut, Michael H. (2015-01-01), Altenmüller, Eckart; Finger, Stanley; Boller, François (eds.), "Chapter 13 - The discovery of human auditory–motor entrainment and its role in the development of neurologic music therapy", Progress in Brain Research, Music, Neurology, and Neuroscience: Evolution, the Musical Brain, Medical Conditions, and Therapies, Elsevier, 217: 253–266, doi:10.1016/bs.pbr.2014.11.030