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I was recently asked a question by my nephew, regarding binaural beats. Because of my involvement with meditation and relaxation techniques, he felt comfortable asking about the safety of it and what it was, exactly. I provided him with some information that I felt would assist him in his choice, as to whether or not to listen, and I decided to do a little more research on the subject, in order to better educate myself. I know a little about the topic, but I wanted to know more about it.
^ Jump up to: a b Fox, Kieran C.R.; Nijeboer, Savannah; Dixon, Matthew L.; Floman, James L.; Ellamil, Melissa; Rumak, Samuel P.; Sedlmeier, Peter; Christoff, Kalina (2014). "Is meditation associated with altered brain structure? A systematic review and meta-analysis of morphometric neuroimaging in meditation practitioners". Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 43: 48–73. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.03.016. PMID 24705269.

Why is exposure to these soundwaves helpful to sleep and relaxation? Science shows that exposure to binaural beats can create changes in the brain’s degree of arousal. Listening to these sounds that create a low-frequency tone, research indicates, triggers a slow-down to brainwave activity—and that may help you relax, lower your anxiety, and can make it easier for you to fall asleep and sleep more soundly.
In Theta, you are in a waking dream, receptivity is heightened and you are able to access knowledge and information that normally lies beyond your conscious awareness. As flashes of vivid imagery dance before your mind's eye, you may feel a "floating" sensation as your mind expands beyond the boundaries of your body. In this deeply relaxed state don't be surprised to receive sudden insights, inspiration or a sense of knowing.
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 were first discovered in 1839. The effects of using audio instead of light for brainwave entrainment were noted in 1959. Oster’s research paper in 1973 brought attention to the use of binaural beats in a medical setting and this inspired a range of studies in the 1980s indicating very positive findings. The effects of brainwave entrainment using binaural beats has become of a hot topic of research ever since but despite their reported successes, they have never quite shook off the sometimes negative connotations of being an “alternative medicine”.


Theta waves also have been observed in moments when a person recalls information from the past, and this may be what links them also to improvement in learning ability. We also experience theta waves when we go into automatic pilot mode, such as when doing a repetitive task like driving a familiar route where the mind become disconnected while you still drive safely toward your destination.
My name is ******. I’m a systems engineer which have worked on the engineering field for over 20 years. During the last few years I have faced some personal challenges which have put a lot of my abilities to a test. Over a year now I got the “Equisync II” CDs from the EOC Institute, and the results from the very beginning were really amazing. Even as an engineer it was not easy to understand the incredible benefits of this brainwaves therapy when used consistently.
But what would be the point of generating a beat that was at the same rate as a certain brainwave frequency? First, consider that these frequency bands relate to different states of awareness. Delta is seen in deep sleep, theta in lighter stages of sleep, alpha when we are relaxed with eyes closed, and beta when we are awake and alert. Second, the main idea behind using binaural beats to help a person relax and sleep is that of entrainment. Entrainment means that a biological process is matched to some external stimulus. For example, our circadian clock is entrained to the day/night light cycle and helps the body organize physiological processes in an appropriate way over the course of the day. A repetitive sound at the frequency of a certain brainwave band could theoretically cause the brain waves to be entrained to that frequency and thus help induce the state associated with that brainwave band. This could have therapeutic utility.
Gamma waves are the most recently discovered brainwave, a discovery made possible by digital EEG technology. Gamma is associated with the integration of information from different areas of the brain, and having a good memory is associated with having a certain baseline of 40 hertz gamma activity. Low gamma activity is associated with learning disabilities and poor memory.

For many years this principle of entrainment has been used as a part of neurofeedback to help patients change their brain wave patterns in the hope of ameliorating the symptoms of dysregulated brain processes that are hypothesized to contribute to various disorders such as ADHD, anxiety, and depression. There is some evidence that neurofeedback combined with photic stimulation (e.g. Hammond, 2000) can help depression and that auditory and visual stimulation can help cognitive abilities in children with learning disabilities (e.g. Olmstead, 2005). 
Across the country, at the University of California in San Diego, other neuroscientists are studying why religious experiences seem to accompany epileptic seizures in some patients. At Duke University, psychiatrist Roy Mathew is studying hallucinogenic drugs that can produce mystical experiences and have long been used in certain religious traditions.
James Austin, a neurologist, began practicing Zen meditation during a visit to Japan. After years of practice, he found himself having to re-evaluate what his professional background had taught him. "It was decided for me by the experiences I had while meditating," said Austin, author of the book "Zen and the Brain" and now a philosophy scholar at the University of Idaho. "Some of them were quickenings, one was a major internal absorption ­ an intense hyper-awareness, empty endless space that was blacker than black and soundless and vacant of any sense of my physical bodily self. I felt deep bliss. I realized that nothing in my training or experience had prepared me to help me understand what was going on in my brain. It was a wake-up call for a neurologist."
All brainwave frequencies are useful and beneficial at certain times – there is no brainwave that is intrinsically better than another. However, by deliberately choosing to attain a particular brainwave state, a corresponding mental state can be brought about at the same time. For example, a working person who has been in an overly alert beta brainwave pattern for many hours can quickly shift their mind and body into a relaxed state by listening to a few minutes of brainwave entrainment music for inducing alpha or theta brainwaves.

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.
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