What Are Binaural Beats?
Perceived Auditory Pulsation
Binaural Beats are simply the subjectively perceived 'auditory illusion' of two steady tones played in the Left and Right ears, with slightly different wavelengths. The brain tends to assemble these two tones through subtracting the difference in their frequency (i.e. Left Ear = 10hz and Right Ear = 2hz) in order to produce the interior perception of a pulsating sound at 8hz (i.e. 10 minus 2). Therefore, many have been drawn to binaural beats as a means by which to train themselves to access states of relaxation, where a pulsing sound of between 3hz - 12hz is regarded as relaxing to the brain. The origins of this relaxation effect date back tens of thousands of years - For as long as human beings have utilized the steady rhythm of a drum during sacred rituals designed to relax the mind and body.
Do They Work?
Therefore, the commonly asked question: "Do Binaural Beats Actually Work?" is a somewhat simple and straightfoward answer: Yes - They work . . . Probably just as well as a drum!
That being said, many believe that binaural beats are more interesting than a drum, because these audio pulsations may be precisely tuned and controlled through computer software, which provides the sound producer with full control of the specific frequencies to which their listeners are exposed. Theoretically, this provides a greater range of potential state induction protocols, because rather than simply 'feeling' how quickly or how slowly to beat one's drum, a computer algorithm may generate a reliable and repeatable controlled output for experimentation.
Therefore, binaural beats are simply the modern day version of a state-induction drum, which is computer operated, fine tuned, and highly responsive to refinement through experimental design.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information Database via NIH.gov contains a variety of peer reviewed published studies on the subject of 'Binaural Beats' and their potential effects on human physiology.
Per Reviewed Journals:
Frontiers of Psychiatry
"Auditory Beat Stimulation and it's Effects on Cognition and Mood States".
Frontiers of Neuroscience:
"Brain Responses to a 6-Hz Binaural Beat: Effects on General Theta Rhythm and Frontal Midline Theta Activity"
"High-Frequency Binaural Beats Increase Cognitive Flexibility: Evidence from Dual-Task Crosstalk"
Binaural auditory beats affect long-term memory. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29222722
Experimental Brain Research
The effect of gamma-enhancing binaural beats on the control of feature bindings Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5486945/
The Effect of Binaural Beats on Visuospatial Working Memory and Cortical Connectivity Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5125618/
Frontiers of Human Neuroscience
"The Impact of Monaural Beat Stimulation on Anxiety and Cognition"
J Hosp Mark Public Relations.
"Healthcare performance and the effects of the binaural beats on human blood pressure and heart rate."
Publication: Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc.
"The brain responses to different frequencies of binaural beat sounds on QEEG at cortical level." Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26737340
Frontiers of Human Neuroscience:
"Binaural Beat: A Failure to Enhance EEG Power and Emotional Arousal" Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5694826/
Journal of Neurophysiology:
"Human cortical responses to slow and fast binaural beats reveal multiple mechanisms of binaural hearing."
"Binaural beats at high frequencies."
Journal: Psychological Research
"More attentional focusing through binaural beats: evidence from the global–local task"