Isochronic tones are basically just a single tone with the volume being turned on and off at regular intervals. When you apply the same effects to music or a noise, it’s usually referred to as amplitude entrainment effects (in Mind Workstation anyway). When you apply the on/off effect to music or noise it’s usually done by targeting a specific frequency range in the sound and only turning that part on/off, leaving the rest of the music/noise untouched. What that does is allow parts of the music/noise to play without being distorted/interrupted, making it sound more pleasant to listen to. It produces a kind of fluttering sound as I like to call it and you can adjust the level of intensity.

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The name of the game (and by game, we mean mind hack) is binaural beats. Binaural beats refer to the event in which two similar — but not identical — frequencies are played in different ears through headphones. For example, you might have a 300 Hz tone playing into your left ear, and a 305 Hz tone playing into your right ear (hence the need for headphones, since it’s important for the different sounds to be heard in isolation). Your brain will hear those two tones, yes, but what it will also pick up a 5 Hz tone – the difference between the two frequencies – which is actually too low for our ears to hear. So what’s happening here is not that your ears are suddenly picking up a tone that they couldn’t prior, but instead, your brain is producing the tone; you are perceiving it, not actually hearing it. The resulting noise that you will hear is a steady rhythm, about 4.5 beats per second. Your brain, in the process, will actually emit brainwaves at the frequency of the synthesized tone.
The huge problem will all such studies is that there is a clear placebo effect on any kind of mental performance whenever the subject is observed. Do any intervention, then measure performance, and the intervention and measurement are likely to cause an increase in effort and attention which will increase performance. This generic “placebo” effect needs to be factored out of any such study by proper blinding and controls in order for the results to have any meaning at all.
The huge problem will all such studies is that there is a clear placebo effect on any kind of mental performance whenever the subject is observed. Do any intervention, then measure performance, and the intervention and measurement are likely to cause an increase in effort and attention which will increase performance. This generic “placebo” effect needs to be factored out of any such study by proper blinding and controls in order for the results to have any meaning at all.
Binaural beats are considered auditory illusions. For a binaural beat to work, the two tones have to have frequencies less than 1000 Hz, and the difference between the two tones can’t be more than 30 Hz. The tones also have to be listened to separately, one through each ear. Binaural beats have been explored in music and are sometimes used to help tune instruments, such as pianos and organs. More recently, they have been connected to potential health benefits.
The same can be applied to the auditory senses, instead of the visual. Think of when you walk around the city with a friend or relative, have you ever noticed that your steps end up synchronized? Or when you walk with music which just happens to have a walkable tempo, before you know it you’re walking to the beat! This is how some insomniacs get treated. Binaural beats or brainwave entrainment aims to naturally help you synchronize yourself to a desired state of mind.
Binaural beats are a type of brain entrainment technology. Entrainment, by the way, is a fancy way of saying "matching". The beats influence your brainwaves, which in turn alter the states of your consciousness. They were first discovered in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove, but were considered a scientific oddity until 1973, when Gerald Oster published an article called, "Auditory Beats in the Brain". Oster's work offered new insights, as well as some laboratory findings, to Dove's research; hence, a revolution was started in the field of neurophysiology. Binaural beats are of interest to neurophysiologists investigating the sense of hearing.
Today we're going to put on our headphones, kick back in the beanbag, and get mellow to the soothing sounds of the latest digital drug: binaural beats. These computer generated sound files are said to massage your brain and produce all sorts of effects, everything from psychedelic experiences to behavior modification. Let's point our skeptical eye at the science of binaural beats, and especially at some of the claims made for them.
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