June 10th, 2013
If you experience “mind fog” after watching television, you are not alone. Studies have shown that watching television induces low alpha waves in the human brain. Alpha waves are brainwaves between 8 to 12 HZ. and are commonly associated with relaxed meditative states as well as brain states associated with suggestibility.
While Alpha waves achieved through meditation are beneficial (they promote relaxation and insight), too much time spent in the low Alpha wave state caused by TV can cause unfocussed daydreaming and inability to concentrate. Researchers have said that watching television is similar to staring at a blank wall for several hours..
I enjoy watching television on occasion, and this article is not meant to suggest that people should never watch TV. However, it is only fair that people understand what happens to the brain each time it is exposed to television.
In an experiment in 1969, Herbert Krugman monitored a person through many trials and found that in less than one minute of television viewing, the person’s brainwaves switched from Beta waves– brainwaves associated with active, logical thought– to primarily Alpha waves. When the subject stopped watching television and began reading a magazine, the brainwaves reverted to Beta waves.
One thing this indicates is that most parts of the brain, parts responsible for logical thought, tune out during television viewing. The impact of television viewing on one person’s brain state is obviously not enough to conclude that the same consequences apply to everyone; however, research involving many others, completed in the years following Krugman’s experiment, has repeatedly shown that watching television produces brainwaves in the low Alpha range
Advertisers have known about this for a long time and they know how to take advantage of this passive, suggestible, brain state of the TV viewer. There is no need for an advertiser to use subliminal messages. The brain is already in a receptive state, ready to absorb suggestions, within just a few seconds of the television being turned on. All advertisers have to do is flash a brand across the screen, and then attempt to make the viewer associate the product with something positive.
Implications for those with ADD and ADHD:
Most people would benefit from cutting television time; in addition, research has shown that persons with ADD or ADHD tend to have too much Alpha, Theta, and Delta wave activity and, therefore, would benefit significantly from a reduction in TV. Television certainly contributes to a reduced ability to concentrate for anyone, but especially those who already have an overabundance of Alpha waves.
Reading (a book or magazine, for instance– not televised text. It is the radiant light from a television set that is believed to induce the slower brainwaves ) and writing both require higher brain wave states. If you want to keep your brain focused and your attention strong, it is a good idea to cut your television time. Sitting quietly for a few minutes, painting, singing, reading, or going for a walk, are better for you in all ways.