transparent brain 576x328In January of 2013, a team of researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine published a paper in the Neurology journal Brain & Behavior describing the methodology of HIRREM™, the process more commonly known as Brainwave Optimization®. The HIRREM methods paper offers a thorough and precise description of the process, what it does and how it does it. It’s an invaluable resource for those who want to learn more about Brainwave Optimization, but be warned: it gets a bit technical. With sentences like, “Relaxation of neural oscillations through HIRREM appears to permit auto-calibration toward greater hemispheric symmetry and more optimized proportionation of regional spectral power” it’s not exactly light reading.

Fortunately, you don’t need a degree in neurology to understand how this process works. Everything you need to know is right there in the name HIRREM.

HIRREM stands for High-resolution, Relational, Resonance-Based Electroencephalic Mirroring. Let’s take each of those terms one at a time. For the sake of clarity, we’ll be taking them out of order.

Electroencephalic – We’ll take the biggest, ugliest word first. Electroencephalic refers to the electrical activity generated by the brain in the form of neural oscillations or brainwaves. Like any waveform, brainwaves have a frequency. EEG sensors placed on the scalp are designed to read these brainwaves across a broad spectrum of frequencies.

High-resolution – If you’ve bought a digital camera or a television or a computer monitor in the past decade, then you are probably already somewhat familiar with the concept of high versus low resolution. A digital image is composed of rows and rows of tiny squares. Each square is a single color. The more squares you can fit into a smaller space, the higher the resolution. The higher the resolution, the clearer the image. We don’t take pictures during Brainwave Optimization, but our sensors do gather a lot of data about your brainwave activity. To ensure that our computer has the clearest possible image of your brainwave patterns, we collect and analyze that data at the highest possible resolution. It requires extremely sensitive equipment and enormous processing power, but to do what we do we can’t afford to settle for anything less.

Relational – Not a commonly used word, but the root should look familiar—relate. So, the question is, what is being related to what?  Brainwave Optimization matches (or relates) a given dominant brainwave frequency to a particular musical tone. During a Brainwave Optimization session, you listen to these musical tones. In essence, you are hearing your own brain activity in real-time.

Mirroring – When you hear your own brain activity in real-time, the effect can be compared to a mirror. The brain now has away of perceiving itself, its own activity, its own function. if you’ve ever used a mirror when styling your hair or shaving, then you know what useful tool a mirror is for self-maintenance.

Resonance-Based – We may not use the term very often, but resonance is all around us. Think of the way a church bell continues to hum long after being struck. We even speak symbolically of a work of art or an idea resonating within us, as if we are a bell which has been struck. When physicists discuss resonance in terms of wave forms, this is the phenomenon they are describing. When we talk about resonance as a component of Brainwave Optimization, we are talking about the way that the frequency of the musical tones interact with the frequency of brainwaves. A resonance loop is created and the brain and its auditory reflection begin to harmonize with each other. This is where the change occurs and brain function is optimized.