What are Binaural Beats?
Binaural Beats are an auditory illusion created when you play two tones with different frequencies through headphones.
For example; Let’s say you listen to a tone in your left ear that has a frequency of 130 Hertz (Hz), and you hear a tone in your right ear that has a frequency of 120 Herts (Hz). When this happens, the brain begins to synchronize the difference between the two frequencies. In this example, the frequency would synchronize at 10 Hertz (Hz), which is the difference between the two frequencies. You would be hearing a tone of 10 Herts (Hz) and the two tones playing in each ear.
When you follow this process, you will start to hear a third pulse or beat. The strange thing is there’s no physical beat; it’s all in your head. It’s just the auditory illusion that Binaural Beats make your brain create.
Curious about how a Binaural Beat sounds? Try the sample below:
How Do Binaural Beats Work?
You can hear a strange beat in this sample above. But remember, the rhythm you think you are hearing is not there as it’s an auditory illusion. Your brain creates this illusion because it compensates for the difference in frequency between the different tones playing in each ear.
This auditory illusion causes both hemispheres of the brain to synchronize and harmonize their brainwaves in a process called hemispheric synchronization.
This hemispheric synchronization that Binaural beats produce can cause the same mental state associated with deep meditation, but much more quickly.
Our brain is an extremely complex organ made of billions of interconnected neurons with two hemispheres connected by neural fibers.
Let’s look at the difference between the two hemispheres of the brain:
Left Hemisphere: Generally, more sequential, linear, logical, practical, mathematical, analytical, scientific, and time-oriented.
Right Hemisphere: More non-linear, intuitive, abstract, big-picture focused, creative, and space-oriented.
The right side of the brain is very creative and language-based. The left side of the brain is logic and analytics-based. The truth is both sides of the brain handle both analytical and creative elements. It’s just that one side of the brain is more specialized for certain types of functions.
What are the Benefits of Hemispheric Synchronization?
Being able to synchronize or connect each hemisphere of the brain offers many benefits through a process called “homeostasis” in your central nervous system. Which allows for more flexibility in the way you think. It can also:
- Reduce anxiety
- Increase focus and concentration
- Lower stress
- Increase relaxation
- Foster positive moods
- Promote creativity
- Help manage pain
Many meditation types aim to calm the mind, narrow focus and eliminate as many random thoughts and general mind noise as possible. Meditation can reduce anxiety and stress, slow down the brain aging process, improve memory loss and promote emotional and physical health.
Lots of people find the process of meditation tricky in itself. It can require lots of practice and patience to focus and quiet the mind effectively. Which is the reason lots of people look to technology like Binaural Beats for help.
Our brains produce tiny rhythmic electrical pulses called Brainwaves. Made in different parts of the brain throughout the day and night and measured in cycles per second (Hz).
See Brainwaves – What They are and How They Work for a more detailed look into Brainwaves.
These brainwaves have different frequencies which reflect different moods, functions, and feelings. Binaural Beats attempts to manipulate your brainwave patterns by using a tone from within the frequency range of the specific brainwave state one is trying to achieve. There are five different brainwave frequency types:
0.5 – 4 Hz – Occur during periods of deep, dreamless sleep. Associated with healing, recovery, and pain relief.
4 – 8 Hz – Associated with right-brain and subconscious insightful thinking, relaxation, and mental imagery, as well as meditation and REM sleep.
8 – 13 Hz – Linked to creativity and the state of conscious relaxation and calmness.
13 – 32 Hz – Known to be predominant during periods of concentration, activity, anxiety, and arousal.
32 – 100 Hz – Associated with higher mental functioning, including perception, intelligent problem solving, self-awareness, compassion, and emotional responses such as happiness and fear.
Binaural beats are highly effective at entraining brainwave patterns by targeting frequencies usually within the Alpha, Theta, and Delta ranges. They can be pure tones or embedded within music, sounds of nature such as ocean waves or birds singing, or within other different kinds of noise.
Is There Research to Support these Claims?
Most of the studies carried out to evaluate the effects of binaural beats have been minor. However, several of them provide plenty of evidence that Binaural Beats certainly have health benefits, especially anxiety, mood, and performance levels.
One recent blind study of 29 people found that listening to binaural beats in the lower beta range of 13 to 24 Hz produced improved performance on given tasks. There was a considerable reduction in negative moods compared to listening to binaural beats in the delta range of 1.5 to 4 Hz, or simple white noise.
Another controlled study involved 100 people who were about to undergo surgery. The study found that binaural beats significantly reduced pre-operation anxiety compared to similar audio without the binaural beat.
Another uncontrolled study asked eight people to listen to binaural beats with a Delta frequency range of 1 to 4 Hz for 60 consecutive days. The test subjects filled out surveys before and after the experiment, which asked general questions about their mood and life quality. This study found that listening to binaural beats for 60 days drastically reduced anxiety levels and increased the test subjects’ overall quality of life.
A much more recent and more extensive study looked at the use of binaural beats in 290 patients admitted to the hospital’s emergency department. Half of the patients listened to audio without binaural beats. The other half listened to audio with binaural beats embedded. Researchers observed a very significant decrease in stress and anxiety level in the patients who listened to the binaural beats.
How Do You Use Binaural Beats?
The first thing you will need is binaural beat audio and a pair of headphones. It’s easy to find Binaural Beats online through YouTube and SoundCloud. You can also purchase CDs, MP3’s or WAV files directly to your computer or smartphone.
Find a place where you are comfortable and free from any distractions. Listen to the Binaural Beats through your headphones for the recommended duration of the audio every day. Remember, you must use headphones for binaural beats to work. Many people experience the best results with closed eyes.
Leila Chaieb, Elke Caroline Wilpert, Thomas P. Reber, Juergen Fell: Auditory Beat Stimulation and its Effects on Cognition and Mood States
R P Le Scouarnec, R M Poirier, J E Owens, J Gauthier, A G Taylor, P A Foresman: Use of binaural beat tapes for treatment of anxiety: a pilot study of tape preference and outcomes