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.
So my question is: Why? When I read it, I had a bit of a fear of brain aneurysms. Therefore, 1. could someone contact me to tell me why use of your product shouldn’t continue past 2 hours? [I probably won’t heed the reason unless it’s a life or death warning: I love this product that much!] 2. Please feel free to post my letter in your testimonials, if you ever decide to post such customer comments.
Studies have shown binaural beats may affect levels of dopamine, a hormone that plays a broad role in cognition and a particular role in creative thinking. This has scientists examining the possibility that binaural beats can be used to stimulate creativity. (If you’re looking to be more creative and innovative in your thinking, keep in mind that sleep itself is a powerful tool!)
Joe: The Journey soundscape took a lot of work. I wanted to bring in the very best of what I knew about brainwave entrainment and to make the best brainwave entrainment product—with the best entrainment technology—that I possibly could. So, there are all sorts of things going on in Journey to provide a sound bed to support the experience of expansiveness and also communicate elements of the heart-based work I talked about earlier. (See part I of this interview, A Guide to Transpersonal Meditation.)
This kind of conflicting evidence regarding the effectiveness of binaural beats to produce valid and reliable changes in brain waves abounds in the literature. For example, Rosenfeld, Reinhart, & Srivastava, (1997) found that in a sample of normal college students, alpha and beta audiovisual stimulation showed evidence of brainwave entrainment, but baseline levels of alpha and beta among the participants affected the observed degree of entrainment, producing significant individual differences in response. López-Caballero & Escera (2017) found that administration of binaural beats in the various frequency bands produced no changes in EEG spectral power between the time periods of baseline and those periods with beats presented. Likewise, Wahbeh, Calabrese, Zwickey, & Zajdel (2007) found no effect on brainwaves with the administration of alpha frequency binaural beats. It is easy, however, to find personal testimonials online.
Theta is an ideal state for super learning, storing information in long term memory, re-programming your mind, dream recall, and self-hypnosis. The theta frequency is recognized as the gateway to learning and memory. What is learned in theta get's stored in long term memory. Children under the age of 5 learn more in their first few years of life, because they are primarily in the theta state.
Beware simple answers to complex problems, or easy methods for accomplishing difficult goals. If you combine this maxim with the advice to be skeptical of any claims that are being made in order to sell you something – then ironically you have a simple method (perhaps I should call it an “elegant” method) for protecting yourself from most scams and cons. Actually the application of this combination of maxims can be complex, but what it does do is trigger doubt and skeptical analysis. (And to be clear I am not saying that all simple solutions must be wrong – you should just beware them, meaning your skeptical senses should be tingling.)
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.
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.
Despite the vast differences between each individual, our brain’s inner workings are remarkably similar. Brainwave Entrainment was built around these fundamental similarities and has equally powerful effects for almost everyone who uses it. While each situation may require a different frequency or audio track, Brainwave Love has one of the most complete, effective libraries to cover your every need. Take a look now:
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.
Binaural beats are the playing of two sine waves of close, but not the same, frequency into different earpieces of a set of headphones. The "beat" is heard as the brain tries to process them as a distinct sound, while taking into account the constructive/destructive interference. It is said to migrate brain waves to be closer to that frequency, like a sort of biological resonance, which is true. Of course the same can be said for listening to relaxing music help you relax, up tempo music to help you feel energetic, etc...
“Binaural beats” are a specific kind of sound that can shape your brain activity to boost your concentration, enhance your creativity, and improve your mood. Listening to binaural beats is a free, safe, and increasingly popular way to help maintain good mental health. Read on to learn more about binaural beats and how they can be used to improve your mental clarity and health.
Your brainwave activity during sleep is largely distinct from your brain activity when you’re awake. (REM sleep is one exception to this—during REM, your brain is active in ways very much like when you’re awake.) During non-REM sleep, the slower, lower frequency theta and delta waves dominate, compared to the alpha and beta waves that are prominent when you’re alert and active.
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.