We introduced brain entrainment in the first of these two articles : Quickly Reap the Rewards of Meditation: Introducing Brainwave Entrainment
What is brain entrainment?
Brain entrainment uses an external stimulus such as sound or light to cause brainwave frequencies to correspond with an intended brain-state for the purpose of inducing sleep or a deep meditative state. It is based on research showing that the human brain has a tendency to move towards a dominant frequency.
The argument for brain entrainment
The benefits of meditation are amazing. Yet, the number of people who attempt meditation and quit is high usually due to initial difficulty focusing, lack of results, and limited access to quality teachers.
Brain entrainment has the ability to reduce the learning curve and allow novice practitioners to quickly access the power of meditation.
The science behind it
For sound localization, the human auditory system analyses time differences between both ears. Typically, when different frequencies are presented to each ear, the brain provides directional information. When the sounds are low in frequency and continual, an integration of the two signals takes place, producing the sensation of a third “beat.”
Evidence suggests that the auditory signals are generated in the brainstem’s superior olivary nucleus (Oster, 1973) or the inferior colliculus (Smith, Marsh, & Brown, 1975). The goal of binaural technology is to have the new beat match a desired brain wave state.
What are the Benefits of Brain Entrainment?
A person’s dominant frequency determines one’s current state. Stress and lack of sleep contribute to higher frequency ranges. These higher frequency ranges are necessary in life but if we don’t get a break then sickness and injury result.
|Frequency range||Name||Usually associated with:|
|> 40 Hz||Gamma waves||Higher mental activity, including perception, problem solving, fear, and consciousness|
|13–39 Hz||Beta waves||Active, busy or anxious thinking and active concentration, arousal, cognition, and or paranoia|
|7–13 Hz||Alpha waves||Relaxation (while awake), pre-sleep and pre-wake drowsiness, REM sleep, Dreams|
|8–12 Hz||Mu waves||Mu rhythm, Sensorimotor rhythm|
|4–7 Hz||Theta waves||Deep meditation/relaxation, NREM sleep|
|< 4 Hz||Delta waves||Deep dreamless sleep, loss of body awareness|
Table adapted from Wikipedia: Electroencephalography
Quick Neat History
Brain entrainment technology is the result of three principle researchers building on each other’s findings. Heinrich Wilhelm Dove was a Prussian researcher primarily interested in the relationship between energy such as sound and magnetism and the earth. He discovered binaural beats in 1839 and “produced a unique perception of interfering beats.”
In 1973, Gerald Oster published the collected studies to date on auditory brainstem response, studied animals ability to locate to sound, and discovered that Parkinson’s patients could not create an independent tone when hearing binaural beats. This set the stage for binaural beats to become the subject of cognitive and neurological research.
Robert Monroe, et. al., of the now famous Monroe Institute in Virginia began using auditory soundtracks to facilitate exploration and replication of specific altered states of consciousness. Their research has included an estimated 20,000 participants and has advanced the specificity between auditory tones and cognitive response.
Enter stage left the Internet and digital media and now we don’t have to travel to Virginia to get the same benefits.
What are the benefits of brainwave entrainment?
Google that question I dare you. Wow, and I wonder why people think that meditative practices are followed by nutters. Many, many claims have been made about the benefits of brainwave entrainment. Three have been substantiated.
Enhanced meditation practice using brainwave entrainment:
- Specifically: Further movement along the spectrum from a negative state and erratic thinking toward focus and a state of bliss.
- Why: Meditation states are quantifiable through brain imagery. Deeper meditation reaches Alpha and Theta states which is akin to happier and healthier awareness.
Increased mental abilities from use of brainwave entrainment:
- Specifically: Increased problem-solving and creative abilities.
- Why: They create a synchronicity between two hemispheres enabling you to think more holistically.
Reduction in stress from use of brainwave entrainment:
- Specifically: Cut down on mental chatter and align yourself with positive thought.
- Why: Alignment with cognitive frequencies that promote a calm nervous system.
Are there side effects to brain entrainment?
No side effects have been reported from brain entrainment use. Most producers of the technology warn against the use of brain entrainment by children under age 18, people with seizure disorders, and pregnant women. Studies have not been conducted on these populations to date. Additionally, (and this goes without saying) it is suggested that you do not drive while listening to brain entrainment due to the relaxing effect.
What does brainwave entrainment look like?
Brain entrainment looks like meditation with headphones on. 15 minutes of use are suggested but benefits have been registered after 7 minutes. Here is what you do:
- Find a comfortable place free of distraction.
- Close your eyes or if your eyes are open focus on something like a candle or point.
- Play the audio file and begin your meditation.
- Try it out for two-to-four weeks. The company listed below has a free trial period.
Which brain entrainment program do you suggest?
I have been researching different options for binaural beats. There are several companies out there offering many products at different price points.
The best to date is Trypnaural Meditation. Not only can you choose different meditations based on your own goals, but there are:
1. Different, affordable price points
2. Downloadable documents to help improve your meditation
3. Assistance with the products as well as support to get the most out of your meditation.
4. A 60 day money-back guarantee. 30 days like the other companies offer is too short for you to truly benefit from the meditation and make sure it is right for you.
Successful meditation is readily achievable
If you have considered trying to meditate or have been unsuccessful in the past, it has never been easier to experience the benefits. Meditation is one investment of time that serves ALL of your life’s goals. Price, accessibility, and technology prove that now is the time.
Blauert, J.: Spatial hearing – the psychophysics of human sound localization; MIT Press; Cambridge, Massachusetts (1983), ch. 2.4
Griffin AL, Asaka Y, Darling RD, Berry SD (2004). “Theta-contingent trial presentation accelerates learning rate and enhances hippocampal plasticity during trace eyeblink conditioning”. Behav. Neurosci. 118 (2): 403–11.
Gu X, Wright BA, Green DM (1995). “Failure to hear binaural beats below threshold”.The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 97 (1): 701–703.
Saxby E, Peniston EG (1995). “Alpha-theta brainwave neurofeedback training: an effective treatment for male and female alcoholics with depressive symptoms”. Journal of clinical psychology 51 (5): 685–93.
Wahbeh H, Calabrese C, Zwickey H, Zajdel J (2007). “Binaural Beat Technology in Humans: A Pilot Study to Assess Neuropsychologic, Physiologic, And Electroencephalographic Effects”. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine 13(2): 199–206.
Additionally, this site: Transparentcorp Research has a collection of over 75 research articles substantiating the benefits of brain entrainment.