If you are reading this, it is likely that your Beta brainwaves are dominating your mind. Beta brainwaves are present when your attention is focused on a problem, whether that is working something complex out in your head, Focusing on a video game or having a conversation with another person. Beta waves are also experienced during anxiety, stress and excitement.2
Brainwave entrainment through audio can be triggered through a variety of techniques, including binaural beats, isochronic tones, monaural beats, and modified audio tracks. The brainwavetones are embedded into the audio and the listener is unaware of their presence. He or she simply enjoys the audio track as a pleasurable listening experience, while the various tones generate frequencies in a way that encourages the brainwaves to respond and “get in step.”
A 2008 study at Hofstra University played two different binaural beats and a control sound (a babbling brook) to patients with high blood pressure. There was no difference between the groups. In one small study from Japan that was published in the Journal of Neurophysiology in 2006, they played various binaural beats to nine subjects, and observed the resulting EEGs. They found great variability in the results. Their conclusion was that listening to binaural beats can produce activity on the human cerebral cortex, however the cause was more likely a conscious auditory reaction and was not correlated to the frequency of the binaural beat. However, a 2005 study published in Clinical Neurophysiology found that they were able to induce a desired frequency in the EEG matching the phantom beat frequency encoded in a binaural beat, however this was with a single subject and was neither blinded nor controlled.
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.
In physics, entrainment is the process of two oscillating systems coming to assume the same periodic rhythm, such as is observed when two clocks slowly synchronize their ticking and tick together in harmony after some time. Pendulums also achieve this same synchronicity when swinging in close proximity to one another, a phenomenon first observed and written about in 1665 by Christiaan Huygens, a Dutch scientist.
Robert Monroe, a radio producer and executive published a popular book called Journeys Out of the Body about his out-of-body experiences when using brainwave entrainment. He later founded an original brainwave entrainment audio company, Hemi Sync. In 1981, the book Mega Brain by Michael Hutchison brought brainwave entrainment information, techniques, and terminology into the popular press.
A binaureal beat is created by playing a different tone in each ear, and the interference pattern between the slightly differing frequencies creates the illusion of a beat. It's intended to be heard through headphones, so there's no cross-channel bleed across both ears. Listen to this, I'll play a simple binaural beat, and I'll slide the pan control back and forth from one ear to the other. You can see that there isn't actually any beat, it's just an acoustic illusion:
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