How does brainwave entrainment work? Consistent, precisely engineered audio frequencies in the form of binaural beats cause the brain’s frequencies to match the stimulus. Your brain perceives two beats with slightly different frequencies (which are inaudible to the ear) through your headphones. It takes the difference between the two, and matches its own frequency to it. This is called the “frequency following” response.
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.
First of all, thank you for a most remarkable achievement. I have tried products in the past that purported to synchronize meditation-level brain waves — usually overlain by sappy new-age music composed by non-composers — and was invariably disappointed. However, I have been using your Equisync II and Equisync III recordings for a few weeks now and the results are truly astonishing and live up to the claims on your website.
Going deeper into a trance-like state of meditation, you enter the mysterious Theta state where brain activity slows almost to the point of sleep, but not quite. Theta is one of the more elusive and extraordinary realms you can explore. It is also known as the twilight state which you normally only experience fleetingly upon waking, or drifting off to sleep.
All you need to experiment with binaural beats is a binaural beat audio and a pair of headphones or earbuds. You can easily find audio files of binaural beats online, such as on YouTube, or you can purchase CDs or download audio files directly to your mp3 player or other device. As mentioned earlier, for a binaural beat to work, the two tones have to have frequencies of less than 1000 Hz, and the difference between the two tones can’t be more than 30 Hz.
Because the mind and body are a single system, changing our brainwaves and spending more time in harmonious, relaxed, and restorative mind-states also affects our physical health. Physical health then reinforces our mental-state, and a feedback loop of either positive or negative processes becomes established. Research studies have shown beneficial effects of using brainwave entrainment for treating migraine headaches, premenstrual syndrome, and for managing physical pain.
Brainwave entrainment is a field of study and endeavor founded in the same physiological and psychological processes that make music, drumming, and chanting so powerful as methods for transforming the mind and spirit and aiding in healing of the body. These processes involve how the electrical energy in our brains synchronizes with sounds and visual stimuli, producing a particular brainwave frequency and its associated mental states.
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Binaural beats are created from two different continuous tones, which when sent separately to each ear create a single beat inside your head. Isochronic tones are basically a single tone which is switched on and off at regular intervals. Imagine a single continuous tone playing on a stereo system and you’ve got your hand on the volume switch. Then once per second, you turn the volume off for half a second and keep doing that every second. For half a second the volume is off, for the other half a beat waveform is formed. The beat is cycling once per second per second, i.e. at a rate of 1Hz.
I first became aware of brainwave meditation programs and brain waves when researching alternative methods for treating the bipolar disorder I had been unsuccessfully living with my entire adult life. I eventually learned a method of releasing difficult emotions on the spot, which I then practiced extensively, and consequently found it easier and even desirable to meditate for fairly lengthy periods of time. Though I took up meditation as a serious daily practice and experienced many undeniable benefits, I nonetheless intermittently experienced life-debilitating bouts of mania and severe depression, often resulting in chaotic mixed states and an inability to maintain daily social functions. During these times, it became nearly impossible to sit in meditation.
"The brain is set up in such a way as to have spiritual experiences and religious experiences," said Andrew Newberg, a Philadelphia scientist who authored the book "Why God Won't Go Away." "Unless there is a fundamental change in the brain, religion and spirituality will be here for a very long time. The brain is predisposed to having those experiences and that is why so many people believe in God."
When tuning instruments that can produce sustained tones, beats can be readily recognized. Tuning two tones to a unison will present a peculiar effect: when the two tones are close in pitch but not identical, the difference in frequency generates the beating. The volume varies like in a tremolo as the sounds alternately interfere constructively and destructively. As the two tones gradually approach unison, the beating slows down and may become so slow as to be imperceptible. As the two tones get further apart, their beat frequency starts to approach the range of human pitch perception, the beating starts to sound like a note, and a combination tone is produced. This combination tone can also be referred to as a missing fundamental, as the beat frequency of any two tones is equivalent to the frequency of their implied fundamental frequency.
John Dupuy is the CEO of iAwake Technologies and travels internationally to teach and inspire on the subjects of Integral Recovery, Integral Transformative Practice, and the use of brainwave entrainment technology to deepen one’s meditation practice and in the treatment of addiction, depression, and PTSD. John is the founder of Integral Recovery® and his book Integral Recovery: A Revolutionary Approach to the Treatment of Alcoholism and Addiction won the 2013 USA Best Book Award. John also hosts interviews with leading innovators in the spiritual technologies field on Spiritual Technologies 2.0 Live and co-hosts the popular Journey of Integral Recovery podcast.
Newberg, who was catapulted to center stage of the neuroscience-religion debate by his book and some recent experiments he conducted at the University of Pennsylvania with co-researcher Eugene D'Aquili, says he has a sense of his own spirituality, though he declined to say whether he believed in God because any answer would prompt people to question his agenda. "I'm really not trying to use science to prove that God exists or disprove God exists," he said. Newberg's experiment consisted of taking brain scans of Tibetan Buddhist meditators as they sat immersed in contemplation. After giving them time to sink into a deep meditative trance, he injected them with a radioactive dye. Patterns of the dye's residues in the brain were later converted into images.
The authors concluded that preliminary evidence suggested that brainwave entrapment was an effective therapeutic tool, but further research was required. The evidence presented appeared to justify the recommendation for further research. In view of the lack of controlled evidence and problems with methodology and reporting in the review, the authors’ conclusions regarding efficacy did not appear reliable.
Also, don’t you think that the inherent hemispheric synchronization using binaural beats might be a positive benefit within itself? While it’s true that the huge majority of us use both sides of our brains most of the time, it’s also true that many of us are a bit polarized to one side or the other in general, or when doing a particular kind of activity or focus. I’ve found stimulating a more equally and consistently whole brain activity has it’s own benefits other than the entrainment aspect.
When we are mentally active various groups of neurons will be firing and the EEG will look like a jumble of different waves at different frequencies. When we are in a relaxed state, however, our brains settle into a steady rhythm – when fully awake this is the alpha rhythm, which as a frequency of 8-12 hz and other recognizable features. When drowsy our brainwaves slow to the theta range, 6-7hz, and when in deep sleep into the delta range, 4-5hz.
♥ I'm an ADHD high school student and I've found that this sound really helps me to get my homework done. Normally, I would be up very late writing essays and studying for tests because I can't sit down and focus on them, but this helps me to focus and also keeps me awake even late at night so I can continue to work. I love this site and I know I'll use it for a long time!