Let’s listen to a spiritual music tape, Tibetan monks or Gregorian singing. If you listen closely, you can make out voices uniting into a single pulsing tone.
This is one of the most interesting facts common for several music instruments and choirs singing in the same key – forming of pulses. When voices or instruments merge in unison, beating slows down, and when they separate – speed up.
Such an effect could have not been noticed by anybody but musicians if not for a researcher named Robert Monro. He understood that despite wide popularity of the pulsing effect in the scientific world, nobody actually studied the effect they have on people’s while listening through stereo headphones. Moro discovered that during listening to the sounds close in frequency through different canals (left and right) a person discovers binaural beats.
For instance, when one ear hears clean sound with a frequency of 330 vibrations per second, and the other one hears a clean tone with a frequency of 335 vibrations per second, cerebral hemispheres start working together, and as a result the brain “hears” a beat of 5 vibrations per second (335 – 330). And it’s not any external sound, but a “phantom”, which occurs in a person’s mind only via combination of electromagnetic waves coming simultaneously from two functioning hemispheres of the brain.
Scientists’ opinion of binaural beats
“I’ve always liked to ask about and discover something new. Nevertheless, up until enrolling at the university I’d never enjoyed education or succeeded in it whatsoever. There had been a time when I was on the brink of academic breakdown, when even satisfactory grades were a great challenge. And I had been considered a bright child, who basically had to have studied excellently. Adults figured that the reason of my many failures had been the lack of diligence. And I, having constantly disappointed them, fell deeper and deeper into despair.
When I grew up, I continued studying in college, where I also was not among the best. When I flunked my exam, I would re-take it over and over again until I finally got the desired score. When I enrolled at the university, I understood that I need a new strategy as I had no opportunity to re-take the exams here. I couldn’t work as much for such mediocre results. That’s why, with all the power of my despair, I set out to find this new strategy.
Luckily, I have found it: I was able to overcome my “inability” to study with binaural beats and dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE), a component found in seafood.
As a result, this academic labour of Sisyphus turned into sophisticated entertainment leading to perfect score and my transformation as a person. I felt like I broke out of a life-long imprisonment.”
That was one of Richard Kennerly’s article introduction.
Richard Kennerly is an American scientist, who researched the influence of listening to special sound mixtures on the brain. There were later named binaural beats.
Thus, one of the most effective ways to organize bioelectrical fluctuations of the brain (as well as psycho-physiological states connected to them), that maintain stable sync-up of both hemispheres, are binaural beats. So, what exactly happens in the brain when a person “hears” these sounds.
In the 50’s electroencephalography (EEG) was a widespread method allowing to record and study brain’s bioelectrical potential. It was then established that the frequency of bioelectrical fluctuations of the brain can sync up, under certain circumstances, with different rhythmic stimulants such as extremely light electric pulses, light flashes and sonic flicks if their frequency is in the natural frequency range of the brain’s bioelectrical potential.
Stimulants in the range of 8-25 Hz are the easiest for the brain to follow. However, this interval can be increased up to the whole natural frequency range of the brain with due training.
Nowadays, electric fluctuations in the human brain are commonly divided into four types, each of which has a specific frequency range and a state of mind during which they dominate.
Brainwaves and binaural beats. Beta-waves
Beta-waves are the fastest. Their frequency varies from 14 to 42 Hz (and according to some later sources more than 100 Hz). In a usual awake state, when our eyes are open and we observe the world around us, or concentrate on working out any current problems, these waves, mainly in the range of 14-40 Hz dominate our brain. Beta-waves usually have to do with being awake, awareness, concentration, comprehension and if there’s too much of them, with anxiety, fear and panic. The downside of beta-waves includes depression, weak selective attention and remembering information and etc.
A number of researchers discovered that some people have extremely high voltage including power of electrical activity in the brain in the range of fast beta-waves, and lack of power, and very low power of relaxation waves in alpha- and theta-range. People of such type demonstrate such specific behavior as smoking, overeating, gambling, drug or alcohol addiction. These are usually wealthy people because they are much more sensitive to external stimulants and react to them significantly faster than others. But to them ordinary events may appear stressful making them look for ways of reducing the level of stress and anxiety by drinking alcohol and taking drugs.
Increased voltage level is one of variations of unbalanced neuro-regulators in the body. Obviously, brain stimulation may reduce beta-activity for such people and, in turn, increase relaxing alpha- and theta-beats. For instance, Henry Adams, Ph. D., the founder of the National Institute of Mental Health and the leading specialist in alcoholic addiction researching in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington D.C., established that the most “hardcore” drinkers drank 55% less alcohol just after on session of alpha-theta relaxation followed by short anti-alcoholic infusions, all of which took around two weeks.
Dr. Adams stated in the interview to a reporter: “… that highly effective method is also very simple to use, free of any significant risks, dangers and any medical side effects. It is now proven that this method significantly reduces the development of the abstinence syndrome and helps achieve deep relaxation which, in turn, reduces any desire to take drugs…”.
Memory and brain functioning improvement with binaural beats. Alpha-waves
Alpha-waves are generated when we close our eyes and begin to passively relax not thinking about anything. Bioelectrical fluctuations in the brain slow down and the alpha-wave “splashes” start (fluctuations in the range of 8-13 Hz). If we continue relaxing without focusing our thoughts, alpha-waves will dominate all over the brain and we’ll experience deep state of mind, which is also called “alpha-state”.
There is a state in martial arts called “the state of the master”. EEG researches showed that in this state alpha-waves dominate in the brain. During the alpha-activity of the brain muscle reaction speed is 10 times higher than in a normal state.
There are always a lot of alpha-waves on the EEG of a healthy person not experiencing stress. Their lack may signalize of stress, inability to fully rest and effective studying as well as brain functioning disorder or sickness. It is in alpha-state that the brain generates more endorphins and encephalin – body’s own “drugs” responsible for happiness, rest and pain reduction. Also alpha-waves happen to be a kind of a bridge connecting consciousness with sub-consciousness. It was established through many EEG researches that people who experienced mentally traumatizing events in their childhood have suppressed alpha-activity. The same thing can be observed among people suffering from posttraumatic syndrome after wars or ecological disasters.
Some people’s addiction to alcohol or drugs has to do with the fact that these people aren’t able to generate enough alpha-waves in a usual state while being in a state of alcoholic or drug intoxication their level of electrical activity in the alpha-range rapidly increases.
Meditation and sleep with binaural beats. Theta-waves
Theta-waves are generated when calm and peaceful wakefulness transitions into sleepiness. Brain fluctuations become slower and more rhythmic in the range of 4-8 Hz. This state is also called “twilight” as in it a person exists between sleep and wakefulness. It is very often followed with visions of sudden dream-like images followed with vivid, especially childhood, memories. This theta-state grants access to the contents of sub-conscious part of the mind free of associations, but full of unexpected insights and creative ideas.
On the other hand, the theta-range (4-7 fluctuations per second) is perfect for noncritical embracement of external set-ups as his rhythms abate the effect of corresponding protective mental mechanisms and give a chance for transforming information to infiltrate sub-consciousness. That is, in order for messages meant to change your behavior or attitude towards your environment to get through to your sub-consciousness without any critical grading usual for wakefulness it is best to overlay them on the beat of theta-range.
It is possible to learn to reach creative states at any given moment at wish any place and any time through theta-stimulation of the brain just in 3 weeks.
For instance, Edison had a very strained regime while working on his inventions. And when during his reflections he hit a dead end, he would sit in his favorite chair, took a metal ball to his hand (which hung freely along the side) and fell asleep. Having fallen asleep, he unintentionally let go of the ball and the noise of the ball crashing against the floor would wake him up. Very often he would wake up with fresh ideas for a project he was working on at the moment.
Improving quality of sleep with binaural beats. Delta-waves
Delta-waves start dominating when we start falling asleep. They are even slower than theta-waves as they have the frequency of less than 4 fluctuations per second. Most of us experience somewhat sleepy or other unconscious state when delta-waves dominate the brain. Nevertheless, more and more data emerges indicating that some people can stay in delta-state while retaining consciousness. Usually it is associated with deep trance-like or “non-physical” states. It is noteworthy that this is exactly the state of the brain during which it generates the most of growth hormone, and the most intensive processes happening in the body are self-recovery and self-healing.
The recent researches established that as soon as a person develops actual interest about anything, the power of bioelectric activity of the brain in the delta-range significantly increases (along with beta-activity).
Modern methods of digital analyzing of electric activity of the brain helped establish that during the wakefulness state, there are frequencies of absolutely all ranges. And the more effective the brainwork is, the more is the coherence of fluctuations in all ranges in the symmetric areas of both hemispheres of the brain.
Application of binaural beats is a very simple and at the same time powerful method to affect bioelectric activity of the brain. Enough researches had been conducted proving the effectiveness for a wide range of apps, especially for accelerated education. For instance, it was shown in the aforementioned interview with Richard Kennerly that a recording with overlaid binaural beats in the beta-range (faster than 14 seconds) caused authentic memory improvement among students.
Harm of binaural beats
There is no addiction possible here (unlike alcohol or drugs) or pendulum effects (as it is with hangover or “withdrawal”). On the contrary, the more you train, the better the results, the longer and more stable the effect, which means that the less necessary it is to work with audio programs or mind-machines because the brain learns to reach desired states on its own.
On foreign markets, over a dozen studios are involved in producing audio programs with binaural beats for increasing human’s intellectual abilities. But it important to note that not all of them are similarly effective. The pinnacle here is the product of Monroe Institute, a pioneer and undisputed leader in advanced audio technologies. The thing is that in order to form the desired rhythmic activity in the brain it is necessary to “overlay” binaural beats over each other in multiple layers.