way of describing it—at both theta brainwave frequencies. And then there are also 40-Hz gamma frequencies, the frequency that came through a lot when the Dalai Lama sent some Buddhist monks to have their brain waves studied as they were meditating and doing loving-kindness practices. Gamma is associated both with heightened awareness and also with loving-kindness practices, metta practices.
You don't have to buy one, though. It's not too hard to make your own binaural beat, and free software is widely available to do just that. The one that I used to make that little sample is an open-source program called Gnaural, available on the Sourceforge website. It's pretty easy to use, though it takes some practice before you can generate some of the really cool, more professional sounding beats. A binaural beat consists of two simple tones, and most people add that background pink noise. Nothing special.

Newberg found that certain areas of the brain were altered during deep meditation. Predictably, these included areas in the front of the brain that are involved in concentration. But Newberg also found decreased activity in the parietal lobe, one of the parts of the brain that helps orient a person in three-dimensional space. "When people have spiritual experiences they feel they become one with the universe and lose their sense of self," he said. "We think that may be because of what is happening in that area ­ if you block that area you lose that boundary between the self and the rest of the world. In doing so you ultimately wind up in a universal state."
... These factors may be the specific frequency of BB; the targeted population-because it is known that older people have different quality of brainwave activity than, e.g., youngsters (Bazanova & Aftanas, 2008;Clark et al., 2004), and the tests used to detect the possible changes in working memory capacity. Based on the research showing a positive impact of alpha-range BB on cognitive functioning, specifically attention, auditory sequential memory, working memory, working memory storage, reasoning ability, cognitive processing and hemispheric synchronization, (Carter & Russell, 1993;Cruceanu & Rotarescu, 2013;Foster, 1990;Kennerly, 1994;McMurray, 2006) as well as on the wealth of research documenting the important role of alpha brain wave activity on vigilance, in-hibitory processes, attention, filtering out irrelevant information working memory, the visuo-spatial component of working memory, perceptual abilities and information processing speed (Braboszcz & Delorme, 2011;Clark et al., 2004;Engle et al., 1999a;Freunberger et al., 2011;Klimesch et al., 2007;Lachat et al., 2012;Oprisan, 2004;Palva & Palva, 2007;Rihs et al., 2007;Sauseng et al., 2009;Tuladhar et al., 2007;VanRullen & Koch, 2003), we believe that BB of a frequency that corresponds to the alpha range of brain activity has a temporary effect on working memory capacity. In our study, subjects were exposed to 9.55 Hz BB stimulation while we measured their working memory capacity through the Automated Operation Span Task (AOSPAN). ...
Some studies have found that binaural beats can affect cognitive function positively or negatively, depending on the specific frequency that’s generated. For example, a study of long-term memory found that beta-frequency binaural beats improved memory, while theta-frequency binaural beats interfered with memory. This is something for scientists to continue to examine closely. For people who use binaural beats, it’s important to understand that different frequencies will produce different effects.
Entrainment is a physics principle in which one rhythmic system falls in synchrony with another rhythmic system. If you’ve ever found yourself moving your body to the beat of your favorite song, then you’ve experienced entrainment in its most basic form. Besides music, this principle can be found all around you, probably more than you realize. Here are a few examples:
Newberg won't go so far, but other proponents of the new brain science do. Michael Persinger, a professor of neuroscience at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, has been conducting experiments that fit a set of magnets to a helmet-like device. Persinger runs what amounts to a weak electromagnetic signal around the skulls of volunteers. Four in five people, he said, report a "mystical experience, the feeling that there is a sentient being or entity standing behind or near" them. Some weep, some feel God has touched them, others become frightened and talk of demons and evil spirits. "That's in the laboratory," said Persinger. "They know they are in the laboratory. Can you imagine what would happen if that happened late at night in a pew or mosque or synagogue?" His research, said Persinger, showed that "religion is a property of the brain, only the brain and has little to do with what's out there." Those who believe the new science disproves the existence of God say they are holding up a mirror to society about the destructive power of religion. They say that religious wars, fanaticism and intolerance spring from dogmatic beliefs that particular gods and faiths are unique, rather than facets of universal brain chemistry.
So, in summary, binaural beats certainly do not work the way the sellers claim, but there's no reason to think they're any less effective than any other music track you might listen to that effects you in a way you like. If they make you sleepy (like they all do for me), use them to go to sleep. If they relax you or get you amped, use them for that. But don't expect them to be any more effective than regular music. If someone you know claims that they are, put them to the test, and bust the myth.

Well, except for one reason: The power of suggestion. If I give you a music track and tell you that it will cure your headache, you're more likely to report that it cured your headache than you are to say "Well it didn't effect my headache, but it made my short-term memory better." An interesting experiment would be to buy a binaural track claimed to induce drunkenness, for example; play it for five friends without telling them the claim, and then ask how it made each of them feel. Give them multiple choices to select from. Chances are they're going to respond all over the map. If you have a friend who is a believer in binaural beats, I suggest going ahead and setting up this little test.


Pure tones played together interfere with each other when they are close in pitch but not identical. When each tone is sent to a different ear, there will not be any physical interaction between the waves, yet your brain still creates an interference inside your head: the so-called binaural beat. In order to create a binaural beat, each ear must receive its dedicated signal. Therefore, binaural beats only work through headphones.
Gamma was dismissed as 'spare brain noise' until researchers discovered it was highly active when in states of universal love, altruism, and the ‘higher virtues’. Gamma is also above the frequency of neuronal firing, so how it is generated remains a mystery. It is speculated that gamma rhythms modulate perception and consciousness, and that a greater presence of gamma relates to expanded consciousness and spiritual emergence.
Anapanasati (Buddhist breathing meditation) Buddhist meditation Christian meditation Taoist meditation Dancemeditation Dhyāna (Buddhist meditation) Dhyāna (Hindu meditation) Islamic meditation Jain meditation Jewish meditation Muraqabah (Sufi meditation) New Age meditation Naam Japo (Sikism meditation) Neigong Pranayama (yoga breathing practice) Qigong Shikantaza (Zen Buddhist seated meditation) Silva Method Tantra Transcendental meditation (TM) Vipassanā (Silent meditation) Yoga Zazen (Zen Buddhist seated meditation) Zhan zhuang (Qigong standing meditation) 5Rhythms
Infra-Low brainwaves (also known as Slow Cortical Potentials), are thought to be the basic cortical rythms that underlie our higher brain functions. Very little is known about infra-low brainwaves. Their slow nature make them difficult to detect and accurately measure, so few studies have been done. They appear to take a major role in brain timing and network function. 
The reason this rule of thumb is so useful is because there is a huge market for simple answers. A genuine elegant solution (one that accomplishes more with less) is highly valuable in the marketplace. We are used to technology delivering new easy solutions to previously difficult tasks. While most improvements are incremental, there are occasional breakthroughs that transform our lives.

When signals of two different frequencies are presented, one to each ear, the brain detects phase differences between these signals. "Under natural circumstances a detected phase difference would provide directional information. The brain processes this anomalous information differently when these phase differences are heard with stereo headphones or speakers. A perceptual integration of the two signals takes place, producing the sensation of a third "beat" frequency. The difference between the signals waxes and wanes as the two different input frequencies mesh in and out of phase. As a result of these constantly increasing and decreasing differences, an amplitude-modulated standing wave -the binaural beat- is heard. The binaural beat is perceived as a fluctuating rhythm at the frequency of the difference between the two auditory inputs. Evidence suggests that the binaural beats are generated in the brainstem's superior olivary nucleus, the first site of contra-lateral integration in the auditory system (Oster, 1973). Studies also suggest that the frequency-following response originates from the inferior colliculus (Smith, Marsh, & Brown, 1975)" (Owens & Atwater, 1995). This activity is conducted to the cortex where it can be recorded by scalp electrodes.  

The use of brainwave entrainment techniques offers many benefits for overall health and well-being, including improved emotional stability, increased cognitive function, and a deepening of creative insight. Much of this benefit derives from the hemispheric synchronization occurring as a result of entrained brainwaves. This effect happens when the electrical impulses in both hemispheres synchronized to the same frequency being delivered through the entrainment source.


Brain research is beginning to produce concrete evidence for something that Buddhist practitioners of meditation have maintained for centuries: Mental discipline and meditative practice can change the workings of the brain and allow people to achieve different levels of awareness. Those transformed states have traditionally been understood in transcendent terms, as something outside the world of physical measurement and objective evaluation.
The activity of neurons generate electric currents; and the synchronous action of neural ensembles in the cerebral cortex, comprising large numbers of neurons, produce macroscopic oscillations. These phenomena can be monitored and graphically documented by an electroencephalogram (EEG). The electroencephalographic representations of those oscillations are typically denoted by the term 'brainwaves' in common parlance.[4][5]
Most programs start at a work/life busy brain Beta frequency of twenty light flashes per second (20Hz) and slowly ramp them down to Alpha (relaxation and meditation) at 8-12 HZ, Theta (deep relaxation and dreaming) at 4-8 Hz) and Delta (dreamless deep relaxation) of .5-4Hz. We have taken measurements at Mass General with state of the art EEG equipment and have seen a slowing of the brain waves from Beta to Theta in two minutes and complete brain wave harmonization in the left, right, anterior, posterior and occipital regions of the brain.
In the meta-analysis performed by Fox et al., several sources of bias were indicated which bring into question the validity of meditation studies which use neuroimaging. Fox et al. suggests a publication bias may be leading to the over-reporting of significant results.[18] Despite this, however, Fox et al. found "consistent differences in prefrontal cortex and body awareness regions" in "areas key to meta-awareness..., exteroceptive and interoceptive body awareness..., memory consolidation and reconsolidation..., self and emotion regulation..., and intra- and interhemispheric communication..." and that changes were significant with "moderate" global median effect size and "consistent and medium-sized brain structure differences."[18]
So, in summary, binaural beats certainly do not work the way the sellers claim, but there's no reason to think they're any less effective than any other music track you might listen to that effects you in a way you like. If they make you sleepy (like they all do for me), use them to go to sleep. If they relax you or get you amped, use them for that. But don't expect them to be any more effective than regular music. If someone you know claims that they are, put them to the test, and bust the myth.
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