Brain Wave States & Innovation

Believe it or not we can help people be more creative, innovative, problem solvers. Here’s an overview of how we use science to explain how creative thinking, insight, innovation happens and highlight how we can teach anyone to access these qualities. Imagine a team full of people creatively solving their own problems. Imagine a community for of people creatively solving their own problems. Here’s the underlying science of what we do with people.

It’s likely that in a movie or television show you have seen a person hooked up to an EEG (Electroencephalograph) machine (little white circles attached to the head with cables running from them). EEG machines measure brain frequency or states. There are 5 key brain wave states that we move in and out of throughout the course of a normal day. These states are measured in hertz

Gamma 23 – 100 Hz

Beta 13 – 22 Hz

Alpha 8 – 12 Hz

Theta 4 – 7 Hz

Delta 0-3 Hz

We move in and out of these states, throughout the course of the normal day, from the awake cycle through to the sleep cycle. Let me explain

Gamma 23 – 100 Hz

Gamma is a peak state, not as common, they tend to happen in spurts. Emerging research by John Kounios of Drexel University and Mark Beeman of Northwestern University highlight that gamma waves are evident in epiphany moments, moments of “Aha” and when lucid dreaming. Gamma waves are usually preceded by alpha brain waves (alpha is explained below). Which means that when we are in a relaxed state ie: taking a bath, walking along a beach, meditating we are more likely to realise the solution to problems and have great ideas.

We all probably have a friend who at one time or another has said that they get their best ideas in the shower? Toilet?

Beta  13 – 22 Hz

Beta is an active state. An awake state. A state we are in when we are multitasking. For example when we are working on the computer, we have Facebook open, Twitter open, our email program open, our mobile phone next to us and potentially a host of colleagues around us… Beta is the state that allows us to function (well as best as we can) in this environment without going mad. Modern living is forcing more and more to be in Beta, so often we find ourselves in Beta throughout the day.  I call it “the noise”, being in the noise as we tends to end up with our mind skipping all over the place and not getting any quality stuff done.

The reality is that we are often not effective, if we spend prolonged periods in Beta. We tend to accumulate stress and anxiety, over think circumstances and end up making poor decisions. Beta is also the state we find ourselves in late at night unable to get to sleep or getting to sleep only to wake in the middle of the night and not be able to get back to sleep. Managing stress and anxiety is a challenge for entrepreneurs. We will talk about solutions to this a little later

Alpha 8 – 12 Hz

Alpha by contrast is a flow like state, likened to being in the zone. We have a singular focus and can get through vast amounts of work at very high standards. We feel good because Serotonin is released.

Have you ever got into the office early (before the distractions of the day start) and accomplished almost a days’ worth of work in a few hours. This is alpha. A very powerful state for creativity, insights, problem solving, and delivering work at a very high quality.

Richard Branson suggests that he gets his best ideas whilst on Necker Island. Why do you think that is? Alpha

Sam my business coach friend says that he does his best thinking in the shower. Why do you think that is? Alpha

At theSPACE we teach entrepreneurs how to consciously bring themselves out of Beta and into Alpha by practicing mindfulness techniques and setting up their day and work place in such a way that they can ride the flow and get back into it as they need to.



Theta  4 – 7 Hz

Theta is where intuition, purpose is at… It is where deep healing is done (Google “Theta Healing” and 1,380,000 results come up)… It’s the same for purpose! We mentioned earlier that you can’t think your way to your purpose, you need to let it come to you through inspired thought. From a deeper part of you. In Theta we step outside the conditioning of the mind and we connect to a deeper part of us that reveals new insights, ideas, and revelations.

Einstein said “We can’t solve the problems of today with the same level of thinking that created them!”

Learning how to spend time in Theta is where we are going to get massive entrepreneurial leaps forward and move beyond this planet.

Delta 0-3 Hz

Delta is a deep dreamless sleep. It’s the bottom end of the sleep cycle. We lose all body consciousness and human growth hormone is released. You might have experienced Delta if your alarm has gone off in the morning and when you wake, you don’t know where you are for a moment. That’s Delta

In alpha and theta is where innovation happens… Most of us have minds that are making so much noise that we can’t possibly hope to think creatively. It’s by learning to quiet the mind that we can begin to listen to what’s going on inside that we can innovate. And in a busy, ever changing world can we afford not to.

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