Updated: Jan 28, 2022
By Yasmin Silva Nilsson
What are the effects of the so called binaural waves and what does current research look like?
Keeping our focus in a single activity has been becoming harder by the day, either for studying, sleeping or anything that requires attention for a determined period of time, specially with distractions such as social media everywhere. However, an emerging resource can function as a support to some behaviours and is even considered as a kind of pre-experimental therapy - the binaural beats. Some studies indicate that they can highly benefit a person’s subsequent behaviour, sleep cycle and even towards stress and anxiety reduction, increased focus and better long term memory - according to a 2019 study. Regardless, they maintain the brain in a deep meditative state.
[Source: Neurológica Blog]
In this sense, they work as a sound illusion. An audio emmits different frequencies to each ear, and the difference between those frequencies is the binaural beat that the brain will perceive. For instance, if the left sound registers at 200 Hertz, and the right one at 210 Hz, the beat will be 10Hz, and it should never exceed 30 Hz. The brain does this by syncing the activities in both hemispheres, a phenomenon called “neural entertaining.” Although humans cannot perceive a ten Hertz wave, the brain does not necessarily have to listen to a frequency to be affected by it. Additionally, they exist in five different categories of frequency pattern:
Delta pattern: associated with relaxation;
Theta pattern: meditation and creativity
Alpha pattern: positivity and anxiety decrease
Beta pattern: attention, memory and cognitive thinking
Gamma pattern: high-level cognition and awareness
A binaural beats audio is best used in a comfortable quiet place. There are several audios available on popular platforms such as Spotify and YouTube, and they should be listened to with earphones or earbuds. Also, to make sure that it enters into synchronization, the audio should be listened to at least 30 minutes a day for a lasting and stronger effect.
Currently, research is recent and small, but highly indicative of the beneficial effects. We should be careful, however, with the common belief that they might “hack the brain” or be a cure to a specific disease. As mentioned before, they consist of an illusion that inserts your central nervous system into a meditative state and are considered an unofficial course of treatment. Whether a person would like to find out if it is adequate, they should always contact a healthcare professional, but regular and prescribed treatments should not be abandoned. It is very easy to find videos entitled “Instant Migraine Relief” or “Headache Smoothing Beats”, but there is absolutely no evidence that this is of help to these issues. In fact, people suffering from migraine can be highly sensitive to sound, so staying in peace and quiet can be of greater assistance.