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The 5 Brain Waves and its Connection to Higher Learning

Dreamstime Brain Waves
Licensed By Dreamstime/Martin Jeszke

It’s important to understand that all humans possess five different types of electric patterns, also called as “brain waves” across the cortex. It can be observed with an electroencephalograph or EEG. EEG is a tool that allows researchers to note brain wave patterns. While most of us focus on looking at our emotions to become happier, our brain waves and our subconscious mind also play a key part to become satisfied.

Explaining the five brain waves, its frequencies and how they affect our state of mind and what specific benefits there are to positive change.

What are Brain Waves?

Brain waves are produced by synchronized electrical pulses from masses of neurons communicating with each other. The 5 brainwaves are the Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta arranged from fastest to slowest brain waves.

Brainwave speed is measured in Hertz (cycles per second). The first brain waves ever detected were the Alpha Brain Waves which was discovered by Hans Berger on year 1929.

Our brain waves change according to what we’re doing and feeling. When slower brainwave is dominant, we can feel slow, sluggish, dreamy or tired. And when faster brainwave is dominant, we can feel wired or hyper-alert. Multiple brain waves may occur at the same time but there is only one brainwave that is dominant.

Breakdown of Brain waves

Gamma Waves (40 – 100 Hz)

Gamma Brain Waves are the fastest brainwaves (high frequency) and the most recently discovered brain wave state, relate to simultaneous processing of information from different brain areas. These are involved in higher processing tasks as well as cognitive functioning. This is important for learning, memory and information processing.

Too much Gamma Waves result to: Anxiety, High Arousal, Stress
Too little Gamma Waves result to: ADHD, Depression, Learning Disabilities
Optimal Gamma Waves result to: Binding Senses, cognition, information processing, learning, perception, REM sleep
Gamma Waves can be increased through: Meditation

Beta Waves (12 – 40 Hz)

Beta Brain Waves are associated with normal waking consciousness and a heightened state of alertness, logic and critical reasoning. Having the right amount of beta allows us to focus to our task whether at school, work or sports performance. However, exposing too much beta waves also results to too much stress. Stress produces stress chemicals like Cortisol which is really harmful to our body if it’s too much.

Too much Beta Waves result to: Anxiety, Adrenaline, High Arousal, Inability to Relax, Stress
Too little Beta Waves result to: ADHD, daydreaming, depression, poor cognition
Optimal Beta Waves result to: Conscious focus, memory, problem solving
Beta Waves can be increased through: Coffee, Energy Drinks, Flow

Alpha Waves (8 – 12 Hz)

Alpha Brain Waves are dominant during quietly flowing thoughts, while you are in deep relaxation, or when you are slipping into a lovely daydream or during light meditation. Alpha is the frequency between our conscious thinking and subconscious mind.

Too much Alpha Waves result to: Daydreaming, inability to focus, too relaxed
Too little Alpha Waves result to: Anxiety, High Stress, Insomnia, OCD
Optimal Alpha Waves result to: Relaxation, Flow State
Alpha Waves can be increased through: Alcohol, Marijuana, relaxants, some antidepressants

Theta Waves (4 – 8 Hz)

Theta Brain Waves occur most often in sleep but are also dominant during deep meditation. In theta we are in a dream; vivid imagery, intuition and information beyond normal consciousness awareness. It helps us improve our intuition, creativity, and makes us feel more natural.

Too much Theta Waves result to: ADHD, depression, hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattentiveness
Too little Theta Waves result to: Anxiety, poor emotional awareness, stress
Optimal Theta Waves result to: Flow State, Creativity, emotional connection, intuition, relaxation
Theta Waves can be increased through: Depressants

Delta Waves (0 – 4 Hz)

Delta Brain Waves are the slowest but loudest brainwaves (low frequency). It is experienced in a deep, dreamless sleep and in very deep, transcendental meditation. These is also found most often in infants as well as young children. Deep sleep is important for the healing process – as it’s linked with deep healing and regeneration.

Too much Delta Waves result to: Brain injuries, learning problems, inability to think, severe ADHD
Too little Delta Waves result to: Inability to rejuvenate body, inability to revitalize the brain, poor sleep
Optimal Delta Waves result to: Immune System, natural healing, restorative sleep / deep sleep
Delta Waves can be increased through: Depressants, sleep

So what are the Brain Waves of the Flow State?

The Alpha-Theta border area of around 8 Hz is recognized as the zone or the state of flow. This is the border between the conscious and the subconscious mind. In our sports performance we start out with beta, but very quickly move into alpha and eventually theta.

According to Sports Scientists, increases Alpha Brain waves precede peak performance. And when you are in an intense creativity, you are having a mystical theta burst where you engage in deep dialogue with your divine mind and you’ll be surprised by your performance. This is the brain state of “being in the zone” where your work feels effortless.

The Alpha-Theta zone is also the brain zone where Gamma waves can occur. Gamma waves bind together ideas from distant ranging areas of our brain, connecting memories, experience and new stimuli into creative action.


There are 5 brain waves or electric pattern each person has. Namely, the Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta Waves arranged from fastest to slowest. Flow State occur in the Alpha-Theta Border where you are in the middle of your conscious and subconscious mind.

Many sports athletes strive hard to get in that state because it’s the state where constant creativity and optimal performance takes place. This is the state where we can combine rapid decisions with creative insight.

Article References

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, considered one of the co-founders of positive psychology, was the first to identify and research flow.

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times . . . The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile”
(Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).

The experience of flow is universal and has been reported to occur across all classes, genders, ages, and cultures, and it can be experienced during many types of activities.

If you’ve ever heard someone describe a time when their performance excelled and they were “in the zone,” they were likely describing an experience of flow. Flow occurs when your skill level and the challenge at hand are equal.


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