Millions of neurons interact with each other producing electrical impulses which create oscillations resulting in brain waves. Brain waves are categorized on the basis of their frequencies, each associated with specific functions. Among these, Beta waves are involved in various processes such as problem-solving, attention and decision-making.
Recent advancements have shown that the beta waves play a critical role in the brain’s propensity to control what it is thinking. Beta waves are also involved when the brain is required to switch in between different pieces of information. Certain experiments were carried out in order to prove the above hypothesis. These included a Memory Task wherein information about the brain mechanics within short durations of time was obtained. It successfully led to establishing that the beta waves act as gatekeepers, determining information that is to be kept in working memory and those which are to be cleared out. This helps us to effectively perform different tasks in a given period of time. Beta waves are dominant when the information concerns with the current objective, different methods to achieve it and the pre-requisites of performing a task.
Another hypothesis was proposed which stated that the working memory is in a conscious state of mind. We have complete control over our working memory, focusing on peculiar things, the time period we keep that information in our mind, letting go of it and making an appropriate decision at the same time. To test the above hypothesis, brain activity from the prefrontal cortex was recorded as it is the storehouse of the working memory. The study involved the application of memory towards identification two different sets of objects and to spot the differences if any. In this experiment, an interrelation between gamma and beta waves was observed further defining beta waves as the gates that access the working memory.
In contrast to the previous models on working memory that state that information is in a static state due to electrical impulses generated by neuron interactions. Recent data suggests that the working memory indeed is represented by sharp modulations in the beta waves. For example, if we have a memory of an incident in our minds, that memory will not be present at all times, instead it will fade in and out at different intervals of time.
Upcoming studies involve testing the role of beta waves in other functions of the brain such as problem solving and attention. Also its imperative to find as to why we face difficulties in processing two different pieces of information at the same time, the ability to distinguish between tasks on the basis of their importance and the limitations associated with the working memory.