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This article contains a description of the history of binaural beats, brainwave entrainment, peer-reviewed research, pilot studies, and access to free binaural beats.
5 Peer Reviewed Findings on Binaural Beats
Sounds that Change Brainwaves?
VIDEO: Example of Entrainment
The below video contains an example of the physics of entrainment unfolding, which has been subsequently applied toward human brainwave stimulation through binaural beat audio technology.
History of Brainwave Entrainment & Binaural Beats
The principle of entrainment describes the tendency for vibrating, oscillating, or pulsating objects to synchronize their pulsations when exposed to eachother's stimulus. The effect was first observed by Christian Huygens in the year 1666, when he observed that two clocks, which were ticking in proximity to eachother tended to eventually settle on the same tick-tock pattern without any human intervention. However, he also observed that the clocks would begin ticking in 'anti-phase', where the pendulum swings occurred at equal intervals but in opposite directions. Therefore, they had the opposite "phase" but the same "period".
The field of chronobiology describes the tendency for biological systems to 'entrain' to the rhythmic patterns of the stimuli to which they are exposed. One of the simplest examples is the circadian rhythm, which follows the periodic rotation of the earth on it's axis in relation to the sun. For most animals, wakefulness occurs during daylight and sleep onset occurs during twilight. Meanwhile, other animals are nocturnal and so have opposite sleep cycles, but they are also entrained by the rotation of the earth on it's axis.
Through listening to a pulsing stimulus (such as a rhythmic drum), brainwaves tend to be 'driven' or 'entrained' to the frequency of the drum. This is referred to as the Frequency Following Response, and the entrainment of brainwaves is typically referred to as 'Brainwave Entrainment'.
Christan Huygens (L) and Heirich Wilhelm Dove (R)
The Discovery of Binaural Beats
Heinrich Wilhelm Dove discovered the binaural beat phenomenon in 1839, where he observed that when individuals were exposed to two steady tones (one in the left ear and one in the right), which were of slightly differing frequency (i.e. 100hz and 90hz), the brain combined the two tones and perceived a vibrato of the difference (i.e. 100hz - 90z = 10hz perceived pulsation). Dove discovered this through placing a subject in a room and placing two Tuning Forks on opposite sides of the room - These instruments were precisely tuned to produce a specific steady frequency, but subjects perceived a "vibrato" internally. Thus, binaural beats were discovered.
The Re-Discovery of Binaural Beats
The binaural beat effect was not explored for nearly a century until Dr. Gerald Oster's neurological research revealed that some individuals could perceive binaural beats, but others could not - This was indicative of certain neurological conditions. Dr. Oster described his discovery in a publication entitled "Auditory Beats in the Brain". Oster explained that the best carrier wave for binaural beats was approximately 440hz, and anything beyond 900hz or below 90hz was likely to be inaudible to humans. Oster estimated that the approximate auditory intensity of the internally perceived binaural beat was near 3 decibels, and most subjects could detect the presence of a binaural beat within 3-seconds of exposure. He was also surprised when he noted that when beats are produced very infrequently, fewer than "about three per second", the listener perceives the beat to move "back and forth" in their head. Furthermore, if the volume of each tone is different, the interior perception of the beats take an apparently "elliptical" path within the head.
HemiSync: The Monroe Institute
The Monroe Institute was established by Robert Monroe, a former media executive who established the Jefferson Cable Corporation. This was the first ever cable company to provide complete coverage to the state of Virginia, and he was involved in many other forms of mass media broadcast. Monroe began to experience states of expanded self-awareness, and he believed that he could utilize binaural beats as a means by which to guide others through a similar experience. His 'Gateway' program utilized binaural beats in order to induce a trance-like state, which was accompanied by verbal instructions (i.e. a guided meditation) on how to replicate the states he believed that he had experienced.
The multiple levels of his binaural beat program included the following:
Focus 1: Standard, waking state awareness.
Focus 10: The physical body is deeply relaxed, in a state of 'Sleep Paralysis', but the mind is awake and alert.
Focus 11: The 'Access Channel' to multiple various states of physical, mental, and emotional awareness.
Focus 12: Expanded awareness during the 'Sleep Paralysis' state.
Focus 15: Timeless awareness, where the standard constraints of linear time are not relevant to information processing.
Focus 21: Sense of Timelessness + Increased sense of Spatial awareness.
These 'Levels' served as the core binaural beat audio program provided by The Monroe Institute for many years. There are several other levels through "Focus 49", which we have omitted these for brevity, as they are more concerned with metaphysical claims, which are best described by those who subscribe to that belief system.
Their "Hemi Sync" binaural program also included a wide variety of alternative audio products designed to promote self-awareness, creativity, flow states, and many others.
Holosync: Centerpointe Research Institute
Bill Harris, of the Centerpointe Research Institute is one of the most successful binaural beat audio program sales leaders, and his program is probably the most well known. In fact, 'Holosync' is known to be one of the leading brainwave entrainment programs and the "original", but The Monroe Institute would dispute that and claim that they are in fact are the originators of the technology. However, this section is not designed to determine who was the originator but rather, to focus upon the unique characteristics of each brainwave entrainment audio program.
Holosync is comprised of multiple levels of binaural beat training programs, which includes a progression from "Level 1" through "Level 12", and they divide the program as follows:
Awakening Levels 1, 2, 3 & 4
Purification Levels 1, 2, 3 & 4
Flowering Levels 1, 2, 3 & 4
Are these multiple levels required to progress in one's binaural beat training practice?
Perhaps and perhaps not - There are no double blind clinical studies on the comparable benefits of progressing from Level 1 to Level 12 vs. simply utilizing Level 1 for the same period of time. Therefore, we recommend that a study is completed in order to determine the presence or absence of a therapeutic effect.
Holosync is predicated upon the principle of "Carrier Waves" that are designed to change from Level 1 - 12 in order to "challenge" the brain to adapt. For example, Level 1 is presented as providing a "low challenge level" for the brain, and each successive level is purported to provide a "higher challenge level". However, the nearest known psychological effect that we could suggest this makes use of is through addressing the problem of "habituation" to stimulus (i.e. the tendency for the brain to adapt to a stimulus and cease responding).
Hence, when you listen to background sound buzzing from your computer's fan, your brain "habituates" to the stimulus and eventually you do not notice the sound. The brain stops responding and 'ignores' the audio data - Until the background sound suddenly changes (i.e. becomes softer or louder). Hence, through changing the "Carrier Wave", perhaps Holosync "refreshes" the brain through a novel auditory stimulus, which causes it's auditory neurons to respond once more, delivering the intended brainwave entrainment stimulus.
Further research is required on this subject.
Integrated Neural Entrainment Process
A separate company, iAwake Technologies, was developed in order provide simplified binaural beats for brainwave entrainment , which utilized variable carrier waves within a single 1-hour session rather than spread over 12 multi-hour sessions. Perhaps this serves to ensure that the habituation effect is addressed more rapidly - Within a single track. Through varying the binaural beat's carrier wave from high to low within one session, the company believed their technology would serve as a more cost-effective and efficacious binaural program. This, of course, must also be addressed through a controlled clinical trial in order to determine whether their company's use of carrier waves are more effective or comparable to that of Holosync or placebo.
The company also implemented a unique a form of '3-D sound' stimulation, which most of the other binaural beat producers have also implemented for their own programs. Rather than simply embedding binaural beats within a relaxing soundscape such as birds chirping, bells, and windchimes, the company sought to cause the Left and Right channels of the entire soundscape to vary in wavelength so as to produce a more immersive entrainment effect.
The company also incorporated a form of auditory bilateral stimulation, which is more commonly referred to as 'Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing' (EMDR). The original form of EMDR was developed by psychologist Francine Shapiro in order to more rapidly promote the processing and release of psychological trauma when compared with psychodynamic therapy alone. The original method required that subjects follow a pendulum-like object with their eyes, which would cause them to gently look Left and Right, back-and-forth throughout an EMDR session.
Presumably, performing this task while recollecting a painful memory could cause a physiological change in the brain that would promote the release of the painful memories. This methodology was eventually expanded to include all forms of bi-lateral stimulation, which included holding 2 hand-held devices that vibrated in alternation, first Left, then Right, and so on. Meanwhile, auditory bilateral stimulation was also developed as in which to administer EMDR, where a single tone would discontinuously alternate 'On' and 'Off' within the Left and Right ears.
The company included this with it's 'Integrated Neural Entrainment Technology' as a means to promote the release of any psychological trauma that could emerge during theta binaural beat brainwave entrainment. The reason for this is that some believe theta brainwave states to be correlated with the revelation of latent psychological content and traumatic memories, so the release of this content may be of benefit.
Monitoring Brainwaves, EEG, Binaurals
Those who are interested in binaural beats are typically interested in their applications for brainwave entrainment. The human brain contains trillions of nerve cells, which pulse at a variety of fairly regular frequencies in order to transmit signals from one region of cortex to another. These brainwnave states have been broadly defined as slow to fast waves (Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma). These brainwave states are believed to be correlated with a variety of psychological states such as sleep, meditation, waking consciousness, relaxed alertness, etc. Therefore, one must understand the role of brainwaves in relation to various states of awareness in order to understand the role of binaural beats and their potential applications for modulating brainwaves and influencing brainwave states.
These brainwave states may be observed through an Electroencephalograph (EEG), which includes attaching electrical sensors to an individual's scalp and transmitting subtle electrical data produced by neurons, to a signal amplifier followed by a software interpreter for visual display of the data.
These EEG systems may also be utilized for training individuals to 'self-regulate' their brainwave patterns through 'Neurofeedback'.
Neurofeedback & Binaural Beats
Neurofeedback is also known as Electroencephalography Based Biofeedback (EEG-Biofeedback), because brainwave signals are 'body' or 'bio' signals that are monitored by a computer and 'fed back' to the user in the form of visual data or auditory signals that correspond with specific physiological events.
This information may next be used to train the individual to self-regulate their brainwave activity: "Neurofeedback". The brainwave signals may be trained by Executives, Attorneys, Business Leaders, and Parents / Children in order to optimize their brainwave patterns. This may serve to maximize psychological stability, adaptability, executive attention, coherent focus, and many other traits. Many have looked to neurofeedback in conjunction with binaural beats for ADHD, Depression, and other psychological conditions, but the FDA has not approved this methodology to diagnose or treat disease.
This FDA status also means that companies may not make claims regarding the efficacy of neurofeedback or binaural beats for diagnostic or treatment purposes. Therefore, individuals may use these systems for general wellness purposes.
The Role of Gamma Brainwaves
Gamma brainwaves are regarded as the fastest brainwaves, and some believe they correlated with binding together multiple regions of cortex. This "Gamma Binding" theory suggests that the brain must transmit information from one region of the brain to another rapidly in order to coordinate complex information processing, and many believe this is accomplished by the presence of Gamma. These brainwaves oscillate between 40 - 80hz, but they are very challenging to measure. The reason they are challenging to measure is because their very high frequency is similar to the electrical activity produced by muscle tension in the jaw and face. However, some EEG / neurofeedback systems claim to remove the muscle tension 'artifact' from the EEG / neurofeedback signal. Therefore, training gamma with some systems may indeed be feasible.
Why Increase Gamma Brainwaves?
Some believe that Gamma brainwaves may be increased in order to enhance a sense of clarity, focus, alertness, energy, and happiness. Research has provided evidence that increase Gamma brainwave activity in the left parietal pre-frontal cortex may be associated with increase compassion and it's consequent sensations of peace, love, happiness, and fulfillment (See: University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson). Therefore, increasing Gamma brainwaves in these regions of the brain may be achieved through deliberately evoking sensations of love and compassion independently or in conjunction with free binaural beats or EEG / neurofeedback. Gamma brainwaves may therefore promote general wellbeing.
Why Suppress Gamma Brainwaves?
Gamma brainwaves may also be associated with excessive stimulant consumption and overstimulation of the central nervous system. Therefore, individuals with excessive anxiety, aggression, or sensitivity to stimulus may prefer to suppress excessive Gamma brainwave activity through increasing Alpha and Theta brainwave states. These brainwave states are associated with self-awareness, relaxation, and general central nervous system balance. Therefore, rather than suppressing Gamma brainwaves directly, one may prefer to increase it's counterparts - The Alpha and Theta brainwaves.
Those interested in free binaural beats may also want to learn about Beta brainwaves. Beta brainwaves are on the fast-end of the brainwave spectrum - The speed of Beta brainwaves is roughly 13 - 25 hz, and they are correlated with an awake, alert, problem-solving state. Stimulants such as caffeine may enhance Beta brainwaves.
Why Increase Beta Brainwaves?
Binaural Beats or Neurofeedback may be an effective means by which to enhance alertness, energy, excitement, and engagement through increasing Beta brainwaves. Individuals with too much Delta, Theta, or Alpha brainwave activity during problem-solving states may experience challenges with executive attention, energy, and engagement. Therefore, increasing Beta brainwaves may also suppress Alpha, Theta, and Delta brainwaves. However, one must ensure that they have secured sufficient sleep and limit their stimulant intake prior to engaging in free binaural beat or neurofeedback training. The reason for this in neurofeedback training is that lifestyle choices that adversely impact sleep and waking cycles (such as sleep deprivation and excessive stimulant consumption). This may skew the EEG's baseline brainwave readings, which makes accurate training a challenge. Rather, one must sleep well 24-hours prior to neurofeedback or free binaural beat training and abstain from drugs and alcohol prior to visiting the training facility.
Why Decrease Beta Brainwaves?
Beta brainwaves may be too high for individuals who experience constant fear, apprehension, anxiety, or aggression. Excessive beta brainwave production may be reduced through increasing the production of Alpha brainwaves first, Theta brainwaves second, and Delta brainwaves third. However, the majority of time will be spent on simply increasing Alpha brainwaves, because these are only one step slower than beta brainwaves. Once Alpha brainwaves have been enhanced, and Beta brainwaves have generally slowed across multiple sessions, one may begin training Theta brainwaves. Otherwise, going straight for Theta brainwaves would be too challenging - Alpha is the 'Gatekeeper' for Theta brainwaves, so they must be trained first. Some may prefer to utilize free binaural beats, while others may prefer neurofeedback training.
Those individuals who train with binaural beats or neurofeedback may also want to learn about Alpha brainwaves. These are correlated with a calm, relaxed, waking state, quiet listening, and alert attention. Alpha brainwaves oscillate at 8 - 12hz, or cycles per second. Clap your hands at 8 - 12 times per second, and you will get a sense of the speed of these brainwave patterns. Most likely, this is too fast to clap manually, but go ahead and experiment!
Why Increase Alpha Brainwaves?
Alpha brainwaves are correlated with increased self-awareness during a relaxed and attentive state. This may also be correlated with a 'Zen' meditative state, which is well balanced - Neither too sleepy or to alert and energized. Training these brainwave states may be valuable for individuals who find themselves to be too over-excited, anxious, or overstimulated. The most effective free binaural beat or neurofeedback training requires that individuals abstain from caffeine and other stimulants for 24-hours - Particularly prior to Alpha binaural beat or neurofeedback training, because artificially changing the brain's state through chemicals may counteract the effect of the training stimulus. Removing stimulants from the body provides a more accurate baseline from which to begin training.
Why Decrease Alpha Brainwaves?
Some individuals may produce excessive Alpha brainwaves in parts of the brain that should produce Beta or Gamma waves. These fast brainwaves are responsible for transmitting information and integrating data from one part of the brain to another. Therefore, a deficiency in Gamma brainwaves and an excess of Alpha brainwaves may suggest that information is not effectively transmitted from one part of the brain to another. Therefore, one may engage in free binaural beat or neurofeedback training in order to enhance gamma-binding from one part of the brain to another - Transmitting data from the verbal centers to the physical speech centers of the brain in order to increase flow-states - For example.
Theta waves are slightly faster than Delta waves, and they may be associated with a hypnogogic state (just prior to sleep), a meditative state, and intense imagery. Theta brainwaves oscillate at 4 - 8 hz, or cycles per second. Clap your hands together 4 times every second - No 8 times every second. As you can see, this is a much faster brainwave that Delta, which we discussed in the previous article. However, this is still regarded as a relatively slow brainwave in comparison to Alpha, Beta, and Gamma.
Why Increase Theta Waves with Free Binaural Beats?
Theta waves may be increased though free binaural beats, independent training, or neurofeedback in order to maximize contact with repressed emotions. Therefore, increasing theta waves through these means may enhance the efficacy of psychotherapy, which strives to contact suppressed emotional states. Theta binaural beats or neurofeedback may also enhance the degree to which one may access 'spiritual' or 'meditative' states, so theta binaural beats / neurofeedback may accelerate the acquisition of deep meditation related skills. Moreover, theta training may set the stage for deeper Delta brainwave training, because Theta waves must be increased prior to training Delta (This is a step on the stairway that descends toward predominantly slow brainwave states).
Why Suppress Theta Waves?
Those individuals whose Theta brainwaves are produced in an excessive quantity during the day may find themselves feeling drowsy, much as with Delta waves. However, this may not be as severely drowsy as with excessive Delta. Regardless, excessive Theta brainwaves may also be corrected through ensuring that one's sleep cycles are completed daily, and excessive sedative intake is reduced. Some free binaural beats or neurofeedback may suppress theta brainwaves and bring them into a healthy range, just as with Delta brainwaves, and this may be accomplished through increasing Beta brainwaves. The reason for this is that Beta brainwaves are associated with alertness, problem-solving, and energy - Increasing these brainwaves naturally suppresses the slower, more relaxing Theta brainwaves.
Therefore, free binaural beats or neurofeedback area may be effective for increasing or decreasing Theta brainwaves, depending upon the individual's needs.
Free Binaural Beats and neurofeedback may be a potentially effective way in which to maximize brain performance across multiple brainwave patterns.
What is a Delta Wave?
The first pattern that must be reviewed is the slowest brainwave - Delta. Delta brainwaves oscillate between .5 = 4hz, which refers to "Hertz", or "Cycles per second". For example, to illustrate the speed of a Delta brainwave, clap your hands 1 time every second - Count that. Snap one-thousand-one, Snap one-thousand-two, Snap one-thousand-three, and Snap one-thousand-four. That gives you about 1 cycle per second, or 1Hz. That's roughly the speed of a very slow Delta wave. Next, snap your finger 4x within 1 second. SNAP SNAP SNAP SNAP! That's much faster, and this is on the high-end of the Delta frequency spectrum - 4hz, or cycles per second.
EEG monitoring purposes, this represents the brainwaves from neurons that discharge at this rate - They transmit an electrical signal between 1 - 4 times per second, continuously throughout the day and night.
Why Suppress Delta Waves?
If you are looking into free binaural beats or neurofeedback, you are probably interested in learning why you may want to modulate your Delta waves. The reason is simple: Delta waves should be prominent during specific stages of sleep, meditation, and relaxation, but they should not be present during waking states while you are engaged in alert problem solving behavior. Therefore, if you observe that you have a tough time with sleepiness, low energy, and drowsiness throughout the day . . . You may be producing an excess of Delta waves.
Therefore, the quickest and simplest way in which to correct this problem is to make certain that one has sufficient sleep on a nightly basis and abstains from sedating pharmaceuticals. However, if these strategies do not suppress Delta brainwave activity during a waking state, one may prefer to train their Delta waves to behave in the most efficient manner. Therefore, neurofeedback may be utilized in order to modulate these brainwaves and enhance wakefulness, alertness, and engagement.
Why Enhance Delta Waves with Free Binaural Beats or Neurofeedback?
Delta waves are also important to produce in sufficient strength during sleep states and meditative states. Therefore, individuals who have a tough time falling to sleep and relaxing may exhibit suppressed Delta wave activity. Through training with neurofeedback, one may enhance Delta waves and train the brain to enter into a deeply relaxing state in order to promote healthy sleep cycles. This may also restore energy throughout the day, because Delta wave production is critical in order to immerse the brain in it's deep recuperation states.
Free Binaural beats and neurofeedback may therefore promote energy through (A) suppressing excess Delta waves or (B) enhancing deficient Delta waves.
Neurofeedback has been compared with brainwave entrainment / binaural beats, and these represent two completely unique approaches to influencing brainwave patterns. Neurofeedback involves the application of electrodes to the surface of the scalp in order to monitor real-time brainwave patterns, feed that information back to the user, and provide auditory and visual 'rewards' or 'signals' when one's brain is 'in the zone' of peak-performance. The neurofeedback software is pre-programmed with settings that inform the individual when their are in a 'positive' or 'beneficial' brainwave state vs. a non-regulated brainwave state, which interferes with brain function.
Neurofeedback & The Origins of Brainwave Entrainment
Neurofeedback is distinct from binaural beats / brainwave entrainment, which strives to cause changes in brainwave patterns through an auditory stimulus. The simplest way in which to describe binaural beats / brainwave entrainment is to provide an example with which most people could relate - Music. Drumming is probably one of the earliest forms of music known to humankind, and it's effect is powerful - Place a group of individuals near a rhythm of drum-beats, and their nervous systems begin to change. The changes in central nervous system functioning are so powerful, their entire bodies begin to move! This motion is expressed through 'dancing'. Dancing simply refers to the tendency to discharge electrical action potentials throughout the musculoskeletal system in the form of physical movements, which correlate with the rhythm of an auditory stimulus. Therefore, slow drum beats tend to produce slow electrical signals and slow-dancing. Fast drum beats tend to produce faster electrical signals and faster dancing. This is all a consequence of brainwave entrainment, which propagates rhythmic electrical signals throughout the musculoskeletal system and produces what we now refer to as 'dancing'
The principle of brainwave entrainment has also been integrated into visual stimulation, where flashing strobe lights may be used to induce brainwave changes. However, strobe lights tend not to produce the musculoskeletal contractions evoked by auditory stimuli (music). Rather, flashing lights tend to evoke spontaneous imagery, because light stimulates the visual cortex.
Neurofeedback & Systematized Brainwave Entrainment
Therefore, some individuals have developed systematized brainwave entrainment systems, which do not represent drumming or conventional music. Rather, MIDI synthesizers are used in order to generate consistent pulsing sounds, which are designed to move the brain from slow to fast brainwave states depending upon the individual's objective. Slower pulsing frequencies may be utilized in order to slow and relax the central nervous system, and faster pulsing frequencies may be utilized in order to stimulate the nervous system and enhance energy levels. Brainwave entrainment may therefore me achieved through conventional means (Music and drumming) or synthetic means (modulated pulsing frequencies).
Binaural beats may integrate systematized brainwave entrainment protocols through exposing individuals to fast auditory or visual frequencies in order to suppress Theta and Delta waves and boost Beta and Gamma waves. Conversely, some may prefer to reduce Beta and Gamma through stimulating individuals with slower binaural beat and visual frequencies, which slows and relaxes the central nervous system. This may be utilized to supplement neurofeedback training.
Binaural beats or isochronic beats may serve as a brief intervention in conjunction with neurofeedback in order to evoke rapid changes in brainwave activity that are challenging to produce through training alone. This is also referred to as stimulation driven neurofeedback, which is discussed in another article.
Neurofeedback in vs. Binaural Beats: Which is more effective?
This question is relatively simple and straightforward – Neurofeedback is probably the most effective method for brain training, but these methodologies may also be integrated. However, we must first review the origin of neurofeedback, binaural beats, and the historical practice of integrating these systems.
Neurofeedback is primarily focused upon measuring brainwave activity through an electroencephalograph (EEG) and serving that information to the user through computer software, which correlates changes in brainwave activity with changes in a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic stimulation. For example, an increase in Alpha brainwaves, which are associated with alert relaxation could be correlated with an increase in the brightness of an image on the computer screen, the increase in volume of an auditory stimulus via MP3 (i.e. binaural beats), or the vibration of a neurofeedback integrated chair.
Neurofeedback is effective for informing individuals of their internal brain states so that they may learn how to modulate those states. Theoretically, this is more effective than training brain states without neurofeedback, because the computer accurately and immediately provides objective information related to the individual's brain state when compared with simple interior monitoring, unassisted by a neurofeedback system.
Stimulation Driven Neurofeedback
Neurofeedback systems have also historically included the practice of stimulation-driven neurofeedback, which is designed to “drive” brainwaves through flashing lights and sounds that pulse at a particular frequency. For example, a computer screen could flash at 8-12 hz (Alpha), and an auditory stimulus could simultaneously pulse a frequency at 8-12 hz. Through flashing lights integrated with isochronic beats (simple drumming effect) or binaural beats (frequency difference between left and right channels, which produces a phantom isochronic note in the auditory cortex), a computer's neurofeedback system could “drive” brainwave patterns to a specified frequency. This may be effective for assisting users with reaching the target brainwave states so as to guide users toward their target more quickly. Therefore, neurofeedback and binaural beats may be utilized simultaneously through stimulation driven neurofeedback.
The question as to which methodology is more effective: Neurofeedback vs. binarual beats, should be fairly straightforward.
Neurofeedback is a far more robust training system that is designed to train users to shift their brainwave patterns from one dominant frequency state to another, and light and binaural beat stimulation may be integrated into this process. Through integrating neurofeedback with isochronic or binaural beat stimulation, one may work with stimulation-driven neurofeedback. Binaural beats and isochronic beats may be utilized separately, but would most likely be significantly less effective than neurofeedback and neurofeedback + light and sound stimulation.
Therefore, neurofeedback would serve as the primary method for training brainwave patterns and light and sound stimulation would be secondary.
However, photic and auditory stimulation may also be utilized prior to applying neurofeedback protocols, because individuals may arrive at a neurofeedback training session with a strong dominant brainwave frequency, which could be challenging to change through neurofeedback alone. Therefore, the neurofeedback trainer may apply photic and binaural beat / isochronic stimulation prior to the session for 5 – 10 minutes in order to shift the brain from it's dominant frequency and allow for subsequent neurofeedback training, which could produce higher levels of efficacy. This method may be effective for maximizing the brain state plasticity immediately prior to engaging in neurofeedback training. This could be akin to “stretching” the brain prior to subjecting the brain to “exercise”.
Therefore, neurofeedback and light and sound stimulation (isochronic or binaural beats) may be more effective than either methodology alone.
Binaural Beats: Pilot Study 1
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study entitled “Binaural Beat Technology in Humans: A Pilot Study to Assess Psychologic and Physiologic Effects”, which was published by Helane Wabeh, ND, Carlo Calabrese, ND, and Heather Zwickey, PhD, of the Helfgott Research Institute, National Colleg of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR.
The researchers sought to describe binaural beat audio MP3 technologies, which are widely available for free and in paid form, as a personal development and general wellness tool designed to promote relaxation. Their pilot study on binaural beats consisted of 8 participants listening to binaural beats daily for a period of 60-days. The binaural beats were primarily focused upon inducing a delta frequency in the auditory cortex at 0-4hz, and the researchers were interested in studying Depression through utilizing the Beck Depression Inventory-3, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Profile of Mood States, Tellegen Absorption Scale, and World Health Organization-Quality of Life Inventory. Moreover, the researchers sought to study the psychological effects of binaural beats through measuring a variety of blood and neurotransmitter factors.
The researchers observed a decrease in trait anxiety, increase in quality of life, and a decrease in insulin-like growth growth factor-1, and dopamine (p=0.004, p=0.03, p=0.01, and p=0.02, respectively).
Limitations: This was an uncontrolled, non-blinded pilot study on binaural beat meditation audio technology, so the effects could have been a result of simply sitting quietly or placebo.
Binaural Beats: Pilot Study 2
Australian researchers presented their preliminary research on the subject of binaural beat audio and visual stimulation (photic stimulation) at the Australian Biomedical Engineering Proceeding 412 in the year 2004. D. Cvetkovic, D. Djuwari, and I. Cosic presented findings, which they suggested may provide preliminary evidence for an entrainment effect on EEG (Electroencephalographic) activity. The effect was observed when binaural beats, photic stimulation, and extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic field stimulation was applied to subjects.
Limitations: The abstract provided limited data on the experimental design, so the researchers should be contacted directly if readers are interested in more information.
Duke University Study on Performance and Mood
Researchers from the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center published a study entitled "Binaural Auditory Beats Affect Vigilance". The researchers began through simply describing the nature of binaural beats, which we have previously discussed in this article, and they proceeded with explaining their experimental design.
The researchers were primarily interested in comparing the effect of binaural beats on Beta EEG and Theta/Delta frequency ranges on both mood and vigilance tasks. The 29 participants were asked to complete a 30-min vigilance task over a period of 3-days while listening to either Pink Noise, Beta frequency binaural beats, or Theta frequency binaurals. The participants were blinded to the anticipated effect of binaural beats as well as which auditory stimuli contained the stimulus.
The researchers found that subjects performed more effectively on vigilance tasks when listening to Beta range binaural beats in comparison with the presence of Theta/Delta frequency binaurals. The researchers concluded that the technology may serve to promote vigilance and regulate psychomotor activity and mood.
Limitations: This study was single blinded, but users could theoretically detect the presence or absence of binaural beats in the event that a subtle difference in the audio tracks was perceivable.
Dissertation: Audio/Visual Stimulation of Brainwaves
Jon Alan Frederick's PhD was presented to and accepted by the University of Tennessee's Doctor of Philosophy program on the subject of audio and visual stimulation. The dissertation was entitled "EEG Coherence and Amplitude Effects of Rhythmic Auditory and Visual Stimulation" and was published in December of 2001.
Frederick conducted a study on 30 college students in which he sought to review their baseline EEG through an "eyes closed" observation of their brainwaves. Next, he exposed each subject to 3 randomized 5-minute stimulation sessions while monitoring EEG. To separate each stimulation session and allow for the brain to return to it's baseline state, he required a 4-min yes closed observation. Through these observations, he determined that Visual stimulation and combination Audio + Visual stimulation produced a significant increase in EEG amplitude for 8 - 12hz, 13 - 21hz, and 21-32hz. Although auditory stimulation alone produced limited effects on amplitude and coherence, combining Audio + Visual stimulation did, in fact, result in pronounced differences in comparison with the Visual stimulation alone. Therefore, an audio stimulation effect appears to have been present and synergistic with the visual stimulation.
Review: Why Do Some Binaural Beat Studies Contradict?
The scientific Journal, Frontiers of Psychiatry featured a publication by German researchers, where they explained their position that "auditory beat stimulation may be a promising new tool for the manipulation of cognitive processes and the modulation of mood states". The researchers conducted a literature review in which they determined that research on binaural beats and monaural beats have historically produced mixed and sometimes contradictory results. Through reviewing 920 articles that matched their general search parameters for binaural beats and cognition, memory, attention, mood vigilance, anxiety, creativity, and several related parameters, they selected 30 published articles for their review.
The researchers believed it was important to describe not just the nature of binaural and monaural beats, but they also sought to elucidate the characteristics of the "Auditory Steady-State Response". This is defined as the tendency for rhythmic auditory stimuli to drive background brainwave activity as measured by EEG (i.e. Brainwave entrainment).
Deliberate Attention to Binaural Beats = Enhanced Effect
Their review explained that differing instructions provided to subjects during auditory stimulation may have resulted in varying effects of the stimuli. For example, Tiitinen et al observed that a 40hz response was primarily evoked over the frontal and central cortex when subjects were asked to deliberately attend to the auditory stimulus, but the effect was reduced when they were instructed to ignore the stimulus. This may suggest that deliberate engagement with binaural beats is required in order to achieve an optimal effect, whereas passive listening may produce a far reduced impact. To further provide evidence for this theory, the researchers examined another study by Ross et al in which researchers observed subjects through Magnetoenceophalagraphy (MEG) and instructed them to attend to the stimulus. The impact upon brainwaves was also enhanced through deliberately attending to the beats. Meanwhile, yet another study by Muller et al also demonstrated this effect with 20Hz auditory beats but not with 45hz. These three studies, when combined, suggest a potential reason that studies on binaural beats and their impact upon brainwaves may be mixed. That is - The experimental methods appear to vary, and the critical differentiating factor may be whether subjects are asked to attend to the binaural beat stimulus vs. listen passively or engage in a task.
Self-Regulation Experience vs. Binaural Beat Response
The researchers also addressed a study published by Lavellee et al in which binaural beat stimulation at the theta frequency (7hz) resulted in an increase in left temporal lobe delta power for subjects who were experienced with meditation, whereas this effect was not observed in novices. However, the novices were more responsive to beta binaural beat stimulation, while the experienced meditators were less responsive to this frequency. Therefore, the effect of binaural beats upon brain activity appears to be related to the degree to which subjects have experience with self-regulating their state.
(The article link contains more information on binaural beats, which have not been fully addressed on this current page).
Binaural Beats for Parents
Parents and children may be interested in binaural beats, because they are designed to promote relaxation and self-awareness. Parenting is a tough job and your kids will test your patience, the rules, and the boundaries you set, so binaural beats may serve to supplement self-care strategies for you and your children.
Parenting & Relaxation Through Binaurals
Parenting is a full-time job, so utilizing free binaural beats during your personal time may be valuable for training your central nervous system to be relaxed and aware. This is because if you are a parent, you recognize that you must be aware of everything your child is doing.
The Keys for Parents:
Active Parenting and Gamma Binaural Beats
Kids are on the go eighty percent of the day, and it can be difficult to keep up with an active child. Binaural beat audio programs may be effective at promoting relaxation and slowing your child down. However, for those days when you want to "be all you can be", you need to be attentive and accessible. Kids like to stay busy and on the go and it is your job to keep up. Therefore, binaural beats that are designed to stimulate you and promote wakefulness may be of benefit if they have demonstrated efficacy. These may include the binaural beat audio programs that are focused upon promoting gamma brainwaves.
More on Parenting and Binaural Beats
Some days it will be difficult to reason with your child, and one of a parent’s jobs is to be reasonable when a child is difficult. There will be days when you have to referee and days when you have to regulate, so be prepared to do both when your child gets in trouble. Through incorporating freely available binaural audio programs, parents and children may learn to self-regulate their psychological state so that your day proceeds more smoothly.
When is the last time you ask your child how their day was? Let's face it, most of the time parents are too busy to engage their child in a conversation. Of course, life does not always revolve around your child, but you still have to listen to and communicate with your child in order to ensure that they utilize their binaural beat MP3 audio programs properly.
Parenting is a never-ending job - From the time your child is born to the time you die, you never stop being a full-time parent. Therefore, you must integrate nourishing and nurturing activities into your daily parenting routine. Binaural audio programs may assist with this, because you, your child, and your family can join together and practice self-awareness with a binaural training program. There must be times for nourishment and relaxation.
Team Parenting & Binaural Beats
It takes a team to raise a child. Whether it is your partner, a teacher, or a friend, it takes teamwork. Raising a child from an infant into an adult is stressful and at times heartbreaking. If you are a single parent, then you need all the help you can get. If you are part of a two-parent home or blended family, you still need all the help you can get, and free binaural beats can provide you with the means to come together as a group and listen to these audio stimulation tools.
Your job as a parent will be filled with joy, sorrow, and pain, but you can be a great parent and win the parenting game if you follow six life lessons. Always be proactive, stay active, be reasonable, stay engaging, never stop being a parent, and create a winning parenting team.
Meditation MP3 (RELAX):
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Meditation MP3 (RELAX)
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This free MP3 is designed to train your brainwaves in order to more rapidly access a state of 'Mindfulness' and 'Meditation' - Most find this valuable for reducing Stress, Anxiety, and other challenging emotions.
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Meditation MP3 (RELAX)
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