Music Festival Colored Strobe Lights

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Each year people look forward to going to music festivals, especially Coachella or Lollapalooza. Depending on which artist you see, most of them provide a light show for their audience, whether its strobe lights or beams of light. But could those lights have a negative affect on the alpha waves in the brain? In our experiment, we wanted to test how colored strobe light could affect the alpha waves in the brain. We took 3 students (females) between the ages of 24-30 years old and placed three different electrodes on their head. We then used the Electroencephalography (EEG) to measure their alpha waves under two different conditions. The first condition was the control. For the control we had the test subjects seated relaxed with their eyes opened and compared it to the alpha waves of watching a multi-colored strobe light video for minute. At the beginning of our experiment, we hypothesized that the multi-colored strobe light video would diminish the alpha waves in each of the test subjects. We know that when you open your eyes, your alpha waves tend to diminished but we wanted to see if color could contribute to it as well. After recording all the data, we ran a one tailed t-test to compare the alpha waves of the control vs. the strobe light to prove whether or not our data was significant. Unfortunately, after recording all of the measurements, we calculated a p-value of 0.100419834 with only a 87% acceptance rate. This showed that we didn’t have the significant measurements to support our hypothesis, but there could have been some factors that played a role into this. First, we did not perform our experiment in a controlled setting but instead a lab filled with other students and lights, causing external stimuli interfering with our experiment. Also, when looking back at the directions in the Biopac, during calibration it says “try not to blink,” and I don’t recall following that step during calibration. Both of these factors could have played a role in which why our results were not significant, but we could do the experiment again and perform it in a controlled setting to see if that has any affect on our results. We could expand on this experiment by testing to see if specific colors, such as blue or red could diminish the alpha waves more than others instead of using a multi-colored strobe light video.


Brainwaves are produced when neurons communicate with each other, creating synchronized electrical impulses. There are four basic rhythms: Alpha (8-13Hz), Beta (13-30Hz), Delta (1-5Hz), and Theta (4-8Hz) (Biopac Lesson 3). The wave that we are most concerned with in our experiment is the alpha wave. When measuring the alpha waves, they are predominant in the occipital region of the brain when the eyes are closed but when the eyes open, they diminish. You may be thinking what are the benefit of alpha waves, well Dr. Herbert Benson from Harvard Medical School found that alpha waves can help reduce heart rate and blood pressure ( Since alpha waves are most predominant when in calm and mediative states, tapping into your parasympathetic system (rest and digest), it would make sense that it could help lower both heart rate and blood pressure. Alpha waves can also help with mental and learning coordination, relaxation, and being alert (“What Are Brainwaves”). Our hypothesis is that watching a multi-colored strobe light video found on Youtube for one minute would diminish the alpha waves in females. In general, the amplitudes of alpha waves tend to diminish when the eyes are opened and are attentive to external stimuli. It’s important to maintain a healthy alpha wave because if the alpha waves diminish, it can cause mental issues such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and if the alpha waves are too fast it could be correlated with depression, anxiety, or OCD (Scottsdale Neurofeedback Institute).


We measured the alpha waves in three female students (aged 24-30) and followed the same materials and methods in the Biopac Student Lab Session 3 “Electroencephalography (EEG) 2.” We then placed three electrodes on three different female test subject’s head (#1. GND: placed over the left Mastoid region, behind the ear, #2. VIN+: EEG electrode coordinate T3, #3. VIN-: EEG electrode coordinate T5) and placed a supportive wrap on the subject’s head to press the electrodes against the scalp with constant pressure for accurate readings. We then calibrated the test by having the test subjects seated still, feet supported and arms relaxed with their eyes closed, to help make sure that the electrodes are making good contact with the scalp and that the cables are not pulling on any electrodes. Once the calibration was completed, we then measured the alpha and the alpha-RMS waves of the test subject under two different conditions: 1. relaxed with eyes opened for 10 seconds, seated still, feet supported and arms relaxed and 2. relaxed with eyes opened watching a multi-colored strobe light video for minute in the same seated position as the first condition. We replaced the mental arithmetic step with a minute video of strobe lights and also omitted the recovering from hyperventilation step. After conducting each condition, we then recorded and analyzed our measurements.


Fig 1. Bar graph comparing the control of Alpha waves compared to Alpha waves while watching a strobe light video.

After performing our experiment, we took all of the measurements and data and created the bar graph (Fig.1). Based on our findings, we saw an increase in alpha waves in each of the test subjects instead of a decrease like we had hypothesized. Amy showed an increase of 0.125, while Mimi had a small increase of 0.002 and Natalie had the highest increase of 0.203. We then calculated a one tailed and three sample t-test to see how significant our findings were and got a p-value of 0.100419834 and a 89% acceptance rate. Since our p-value was not lower or equal to 0.05, we could not support our hypothesis of watching a multi-colored strobe light video found on Youtube for one minute would diminish the Alpha waves. As you can see from Figure.1, there was actually an increase in alpha waves instead of a decrease.


Based on our results, instead of seeing a decrease in alpha waves in each of the test subjects there was a surprising increase instead. Even though we did get an increase in alpha-waves for each test subject, our p-value was not significant enough for us to accept our hypothesis. With all this being said, we cannot agree nor disagree whether strobe lights at music festivals or videos will diminish the alpha waves in the brain. But we can further this study by testing more test subjects in a controlled setting and testing to see if certain colors could have more or less of an affect than others. Also, when looking back at the directions in the Biopac, during calibration it said “try not to blink,” and we forgot to follow that step during calibration which could have played a role in which why our results were not significant. Ai Yoto did a similar experiment like we did in 2007 but instead of watching a video of different colors they used different sheets of colored papers (red, blue and green) in randomized orders. He tested the blood pressure as well as the electroencephalogram (EEG) of 11 university students between the ages of 20 to 31 years old (male and female). Looking at his results, it showed that the colors red and green actually produce higher frequencies than the color blue in the alpha waves. Our study only tested females and had three different subjects. If we were to expand on the number of subjects we tested, our results may have been more significant.

Work Cited:

“Alpha Waves.” Scottsdale Neurofeedback Institute, AZ,

Bbfreak. “Alpha Brain Waves – Everything You Need To Know.” Binaural Beats Freak, 5 Oct. 2017,

Kropotov, Juri D. “Alpha Wave.” Alpha Wave - an Overview | ScienceDirect Topics, 2015,

“What Are Brainwaves?” What Are Brainwaves ? Types of Brain Waves | EEG Sensor and Brain Wave – UK,

Yoto, Ai & Katsuura, Tetsuo & Iwanaga, Koichi & Shimomura, Yoshihiro. (2007). Effects of Object Color Stimuli on Human Brain Activities in Perception and Attention Referred to EEG Alpha Band Response. Journal of physiological anthropology. 26. 373-9. 10.2114/jpa2.26.373.

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Music Festival Colored Strobe Lights. (2020, May 13). Retrieved June 16, 2024 , from

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