The phenomena of brainwave entrainment was first described in the scientific literature in 1973 by Gerald Oster in results published in an article in Scientific American entitled, “Auditory Beats in the Brain”. He showed that a specific brainwave could be induced when a person heard two separate, but closely related, sound frequencies, one in each ear. He discovered that when the frequencies heard by each ear differed by about 10 hertz, the brainwave pattern of the person hearing the sound would synchronize to the difference between the two frequencies. For example, if the person heard a 410 hertz sound in one ear and a 400 hertz sound in the other ear, their brainwaves would stabilize at the difference between the two, or 10 hertz. This technique is called binaural beats, and it is a fundamental principle of brainwave entrainment methods.
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.
Jeffrey D. Thompson, D.C., B.F.A. Disclaimer: Nothing on this website is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition of whatever nature, and shall not be construed to mean medical advice, implied or otherwise. Information on this site is intended for educational edification and use only. © Coyyright 1988-2018 – Center for Neuroacoustic Research - All Rights Reserved.
Despite the lack of solid evidence of the effectiveness of binaural beats in producing brainwave changes, and that those changes can be effective in altering our conscious states, there do exist hours of recorded binaural beat videos available on YouTube. Some of these are just straight beats designed to ease the listener into various states by gradually varying the frequencies of the beats. A nice example of this can be found in a 90-minute video by Jody Hatton. Others embed the beats into a musical score, which some people find easier to listen to. Spotify has a whole playlist devoted to binaural beats. You can try these and many others to see if this is something that may be helpful to you. The soothing nature of the sounds may be what really helps, but that’s fine if you just want to relax and drift off to sleep. You can also find quite a few apps that generate binaural beats at your phone’s app store. If you want to relax and sleep just be sure to set the frequency in the theta range (4 – 7 Hz). Patients have reported to me that they felt energized or even anxious after listening to a few minutes of the beats, but this was usually because they were set to a high frequency like beta (13 – 16 Hz). Be sure to try listening to the beats for a short time and if they have a negative effect, just stop listening. If you find them helpful, that’s great, and you have a new technique that can be used to promote relaxation, something most of us can use.
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Binaural-beat perception originates in the inferior colliculus of the midbrain and the superior olivary complex of the brainstem, where auditory signals from each ear are integrated and precipitate electrical impulses along neural pathways through the reticular formation up the midbrain to the thalamus, auditory cortex, and other cortical regions.
Participants in the included studies were children and adults, either healthy or with conditions such as learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, migraine, stress, anxiety and myofascial pain. Interventions included single, alternating, ascending or descending frequencies of photic or auditory stimulation or audiovisual entrainment selected either by the participant or by the investigator. Nearly half the studies used single sessions and the rest used multiple sessions ranging from nine to 100. Length of session varied from 0.5 seconds to 60 minutes. Frequency of session varied from twice daily to weekly. Outcomes reported in the review included cognition (including verbal skills, performance skills, attention, memory and overall intelligence/achievement), short- and long-term stress, pain, headache/migraine, mood, behavioural problems and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Changes in neural oscillations, demonstrable through electroencephalogram (EEG) measurements, are precipitated by listening to music, which can modulate autonomic arousal ergotropically and trophotropically, increasing and decreasing arousal respectively. Musical auditory stimulation has also been demonstrated to improve immune function, facilitate relaxation, improve mood, and contribute to the alleviation of stress. These findings have contributed to the development of neurologic music therapy, which uses music and song as an active and receptive intervention, to contribute to the treatment and management of disorders characterized by impairment to parts of the brain and central nervous system, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, cerebral palsy, Alzheimer's disease, and autism.
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** DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor or a scientist, just a nerd who loves meditation and experimenting with new things. I test every binaural beat track on myself and make sure I'm happy with the result before I make it public. Ultimately, every person is going to have their own unique experience. Using this track is done at your own risk -- if you start to experience any negative effects, STOP using it!
Back in 1839, Dr. Heinrich Wilhelm Dove, a Prussian physicist and meteorologist, discovered that when you introduce tones with certain frequencies into each ear, you could actually entrain the electrical patterns within the brain to resonate in very specific patterns, called brainwave states. The last two decades have seen an amazing amount of scientific interest in this world transforming field of study, laying the foundation for the hundreds of studies conducted since then, boosting the technology’s significance and importance immeasurably.
"When these people talk of religious experience, they are talking of a meditative experience," said John Haught, a professor of theology at Georgetown University. "But religion is more than that. It involves commitments and suffering and struggle it's not all meditative bliss. It also involves moments when you feel abandoned by God." "Religion is visiting widows and orphans," he said. "It is symbolism and myth and story and much richer things. They have isolated one small aspect of religious experience and they are identifying that with the whole of religion."
Participants were experienced practitioners of Acem Meditation, a nondirective method developed in Norway. They were asked to rest, eyes closed, for 20 minutes, and to meditate for another 20 minutes, in random order. The abundance and location of slow to fast electrical brain waves (delta, theta, alpha, beta) provide a good indication of brain activity.
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The research may represent the bravest frontier of brain research. But depending on your religious beliefs, it may also be the last straw. For while Newberg and other scientists say they are trying to bridge the gap between science and religion, many believers are offended by the notion that God is a creation of the human brain, rather than the other way around. "It reinforces atheistic assumptions and makes religion appear useless," said Nancey Murphy, a professor of Christian philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. "If you can explain religious experience purely as a brain phenomenon, you don't need the assumption of the existence of God."
Binaural beats can easily be heard at the low frequencies (< 30 Hz) that are characteristic of the EEG spectrum (Oster, 1973). This perceptual phenomenon of binaural beating and the objective measurement of the frequency-following response (Hink, Kodera, Yamada, Kaga, & Suzuki, 1980) suggest conditions which facilitate entrainment of brain waves and altered states of consciousness. There have been numerous anecdotal reports and a growing number of research efforts reporting changes in consciousness associated with binaural-beats. "The subjective effect of listening to binaural beats may be relaxing or stimulating, depending on the frequency of the binaural-beat stimulation" (Owens & Atwater, 1995). Binaural beats in the delta (1 to 4 Hz) and theta (4 to 8 Hz) ranges have been associated with reports of relaxed, meditative, and creative states (Hiew, 1995), and used as an aid to falling asleep. Binaural beats in the alpha frequencies (8 to 12 Hz) have increased alpha brain waves (Foster, 1990) and binaural beats in the beta frequencies (typically 16 to 24 Hz) have been associated with reports of increased concentration or alertness (Monroe, 1985) and improved memory (Kennerly, 1994).
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In shamanic traditions, drums have long been used to transport the shaman out of his or her body into other realms of reality through the use of constant rhythmic vibrations. Researcher Melinda Maxfield, studying the Shamanic State of Consciousness, found that the steady rhythmic beat of the drum struck 4.5 times per second was the key to transporting a shaman into the deepest part of his shamanic state of consciousness. With the invention of the EEG (electroencephalograph) Biofeedback researchers discovered that theta brain waves oscillate at 4.5 beats, or cycles, per second. In direct correlation, we see similar effects brought on by the constant and rhythmic drone of Tibetan Buddhist chants that transport the monks and even other listeners into realms of blissful meditation.
While a practical understanding of brainwaves has been around for as long as people have been singing, chanting, and drumming, a scientific view of the electrical activity inside the human brain was not published until 1924 when German psychiatrist Hans Berger developed a machine for sensing and recording activity in the brain by attaching small electrical sensors to the scalp of his patients and recording the resulting electrical activity. Berger’s inventions and discoveries were built upon the earlier work of Richard Caton who published animal studies on brainwave oscillations in 1875.
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So using the example track above, the right ear is sent a 20Hz beat, compared to a 10Hz beat in the left ear. As the right ear receives the higher frequency of beat, this works to increase the speed of the ‘left' brain hemisphere, which can be helpful for people with conditions like ADD, who are often found to have an abundance of slow wave activity in the left brain.
As a relatively new technology, fMRI has only recently been used to assess brain state changes during meditation. Recent studies have shown heightened activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, frontal cortex, and prefrontal cortex, specifically in the dorsal medial prefrontal area during Vipassana meditation. Similarly, the cingulate cortex and frontal cortex areas were shown to have increased activity during Zen meditation. Both studies comment on the possibility that these findings could indicate some state of heightened voluntary control over attention during mindfulness meditation. Review works by Cahn and Chiesa state that these results indicate consistency in meditation’s effect on these regions of the brain, citing a multitude of other studies spanning other meditative disciplines, but mention the need for further investigation with better controls.
Entrainment is a phenomenon seen is a wide variety of different natural circumstance. In the field of chronobiology, the study of biological rhythms in living organisms, entrainment is the synchronization of a circadian rhythm with the rhythm of an external pattern, such as the synchronizing of women’s menstrual cycles with the phases of the moon or with one another in a group.
♥ At 56, I have tried many a thing. The default setting of Binaural Beat Machine does make me very relaxed. But it's not what it does on the moment, pleasant as this might be. It is the quality of the sleep, when I use it for half an hour before going to bed. I sleep a deep, restful sleep. I use it during day-time meditation as well, and the clear-mind feeling about an hour later is wonderful!