Hans Berger discovered Alpha brain waves in 1929 using an eeg machine. They were the first brain waves ever detected, hence named after the first letter in the Greek alphabet – Alpha.
Alpha brain waves have electrical frequencies between 8-13 hertz. They are generated in the Thalamus (the brain within the brain). Alpha brain waves are most present in a wakeful state that is characterized by a relaxed and effortless alertness. Alpha states have been described variously as sublime, flying, floating, lightness, peace, and tranquility. Alpha brain waves are not always present. For example, if someone is in deep sleep or in intense anger there are almost no Alpha brain waves.
Alpha brain waves are important for creativity. Scientists have shown that highly creative people have different brain waves from normal and non-creative people. In order to have a creative inspiration your brain needs to be able to generate a big burst of Alpha brain waves. The brains of creative people can generate these big Alpha brain wave bursts, and do so when they are faced with problems to solve. Normal and non-creative people do not produce Alpha brain wave increases when they are faced with problems, and so they cannot come up with creative ideas and solutions. Any time you have an insight or an inspiration, you know your brain just produced more Alpha waves than usual. Increased creativity is helpful for everyone. One way to increase creativity is to increase Alpha brain waves.
Peak performance is another activity for which Alpha brain waves are helpful. Recently sports scientists have shown that increases of Alpha brain waves precede peak performance. One key difference between novice and elite athletes is in their brain waves. Just before their peak performances, elite basketball players, golfers, and marksmen will produce a burst of Alpha brain waves. Novice and intermediate athletes do not have these Alpha bursts. However, one study of archers training over many weeks, showed that as they improved their performance, they gradually increased the amount Alpha bursts which occurred just before their best shots. The Alpha brain waves seemed to be essential for peak performance and were increased, albeit slowly, by the archery training.