research article

Binaural beats, audio technology for optimal performance.

Binaural Beats

Audio technology for optimal performance

Scientific research1 and personal testimony support the effectiveness of binaural beats to alter mood and perception, particularly when used for meditation, concentration and sleep.

The technology has been understood for a long time2 and is completely safe, but it is only in the last 20 years or so that use of binaural beats has become widespread, in line with the use of digital media generally.

Binaural beats can be used to promote brain wave states equivalent to those observed for deep meditation, relaxation, concentration, creativity and deep sleep. Some claim to be able to create more exotic states of consciousness such as lucid dreaming and OOBE3.

This is possible due to the brain's natural ability to adopt an external frequency stimulus, or rhythm; what is called the frequency following response (FFR)4.

We all know or have experience of this phenomenon, which is completely natural, although its purpose is not fully understood:

  • Slow music is often described as soothing, while the reverse is true for faster or chaotic beats
  • 1 cycle per second (Hz) is the dominant frequency for a developing foetus (the mother's heartbeat) and induces a state of deep dreamless sleep
  • Hypnotherapy makes use of regular rhythms, or cadence, to put subjects into a hypnotic trance (consistent with theta brain waves)
  • Shamans have for thousands of years used drum-beats of around 4 cycles per second (the border between theta/dreaming and delta/unconscious mind) to induce altered states of awareness.

There are many other examples that could be given.

Some of the reported benefits of using binaural beats are:

  • Effortless super-deep meditation.
  • Improved learning and memory, greater clarity of thought and ability to concentrate.
  • Increased creativity and intuition.
  • Significantly lower levels of stress and correspondingly lower levels of harmful stress-related brain chemicals.
  • Increased production of brain chemicals related to longevity, well-being, and quality of life.
  • Better sleep.

Binaural beats are a form of brain wave entrainment used to create a very specific response in the listener - and you, as the listener, get to choose exactly what kind of response. They are a way to adapt your state of mind to suit the needs of the present moment.

Brainwave Entrainment is a term used to describe any practice that causes brain wave frequencies to fall into step with a periodic stimulus.

Researcher Robert Cosgrove, Jr., Ph.D., M.D., an authority in biomedical engineering, noted that technologies that alter brain wave patterns:

have great potential for use in promoting optimal cerebral performance ... furthermore the long-term effects of regular use may delay for decades the deterioration of the brain traditionally associated with aging.5

In other words, regular use of binaural beats "exercises" the brain, potentially creating permanent improvement in mental and emotional health.

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