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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN
I’m sure I will never fully grasp the magnificence of the human body. It is a truly remarkable machine. In particular, the possibilities within the human brain are endless. Considering it is similar to a central processing unit of a computer, I’ve made it a primary focus of my studies. My interest in health first started with the gut, which eventually transpired to the brain.
The growing list of diagnosable mental health disorders continue to rise in raw numbers. It is my opinion that long term solutions to anxiety, depression, and other common mental health ailments will NOT come in the form of a pill. While pharmaceuticals may provide temporary symptomatic relief, there are several other interventions that are worth exploring during a road to recovery. Binaural Beat Therapy is one of those options.
Binaural beat therapy is a form of audio entrainment that typically uses stereo headphones. When you play two steady tones at slightly different pre-determined frequencies, your brain interprets this as a “beat.” The two frequencies are played separately in each ear. Through complex mechanisms, your brain can induce various brainwave states that may result in physiological changes.
Because of this, researchers have been interested in the effects of binaural beats for anxiety reduction, concentration, and hypnosis (1),(2). While most studies have been small test group pilot investigations, the initial results for the above purposes are promising (1),(2).
Most of the studies of binaural beat therapy started around the early 1970s, and continued into the 80s. Soon after, the research apparently halted, and dropped out entirely. However, there appears to be a renewed interest in brainwave entrainment since the 1990s. Dozens, if not hundreds of companies now offer a variety of binaural beat therapy digital downloads. Most of these feature music superimposed upon binaural beats.
While this is aesthetically pleasing, I really only care about the results. I purchased several of the “Brain Sync” company downloads previously, but now I frequently search for free products on YouTube. Simply search for “Binaural beat,” and you’ll find some simple, isolated binaural beat tones.
There are various brain wave states that may be influenced by binaural beat therapy, including: Alpha, Beta, Theta, Delta, and Gamma. Each have their own purposes for various roles in human function.
Personally, I often attempt to influence my brain into a Theta state using binaural beat therapy. I combine this with imagery. I imagine things I wish to come to fruition, and how this will occur. When I am successful, I often feel like I am floating, almost in a dream-like state, but yet fully awake. This has been my experience so far. I’d love to learn more about brainwave EEGs in the future, and possibly measure my own brainwaves more closely.
For descriptions of the individual brainwave states, click here.
If you are interested in brainwave entrainment, I recommend starting with a daily session of the 30 minutes for about 2 months. Keep a journal of how you respond to binaural beat therapy. I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section below!
Images: by Allan Ajifo