Binaural Beats

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Binaural beats are a recognized phenomenon, produced by the brain when two distinct audio tones of differing frequency are presented - one to each ear. The effect of hearing these two separate tones is rather an odd one; instead of hearing individual tones, the brain converts the sound into a beating pulse. In essence binaural beats are an auditory hallucination. However, these auditory hallucinations have a very real effect upon the brain, creating what is known as a Frequency Following Response (FFR), where ones brainwaves synchronize with the a set frequency. The hallucinatory beating pulse created by binaural beats can be set to a very specific and pre-determined rate. The rate at which the pulse beats is determined by the difference in frequency between the two individual tones. For example, a tone of 120hz is sent to the right ear, and a tone of 125hz is sent to the left ear - the brain then 'converts' these tones into a single illusionary beating tone of 5hz. 5hz being the difference between 120hz and 125hz. This is where FFR comes into play; the individuals brainwaves will synchronize with the 5hz frequency within approximately 6 minutes of listening. This process is known as 'brainwave synchronization' or more commonly as 'brainwave entrainment'.

The Sub-Sets of Brainwave Entrainment

To take a moment to clarify something; it is quite common for the terms 'binaural beats' and 'brainwave entrainment' to be used interchangeably. More often the term 'binaural beats' is understood to create the FFR phenomenon, but little to nothing is known about the term 'brainwave entrainment'. This is a result of a simple misunderstanding; whilst all FFR phenomenon are a result of brainwave entrainment, not all FFR are caused by binaural beats. In short, binaural beats are a sub-set of the collective term brainwave entrainment. There are many others types of brainwave entrainment, a few of which are listed here:
  • Binaural Beats
  • Monaural Beats
  • Isochronic Beats
  • Harmonic Box X
  • White Noise
  • Pink / Brown Noise
Brainwave entrainment is not just limited to auditory stimulation. The Frequency Following Response can also be induced by other methods; commonly used are pulsing or flashing lights. In the case of light based entrainment, the user wears a pair of goggles containing a number of small LED lights. The lights then flash rapidly, the rate of the flashing determines the frequency in Hz. Yet another form of brainwave entrainment is created by the use of electro magnetic fields.

The Uses of Brainwave Entrainment

In every moment, the brain is producing a complex pattern of brainwaves. These brainwaves are a result of the electro-chemical signals that are sent between the neurons within the brain. Whilst the patterns are very complex, they can be recorded through the use of measuring equipment such as an EEG which in turn determines the frequency of any one particular brainwave. Each specific brainwave frequency is related to a specific state of consciousness, and can be categorized into four basic sub-sets:
  • Beta - 13hz to 30hz: Brainwaves within this frequency range are associated with mental activity. Beta is generally the dominating frequency during our waking and active hours.
  • Alpha - 8hz to 13hz: The state of relaxation, whilst still alert. Often alpha is experienced whilst we listen to music or relax in front of the TV.
  • Theta 4hz to 8hz: Experienced during dreaming, meditation and trance-like states.
  • Delta - 0.5hz to 4hz: This frequency is associated with deep sleep, and other states of low level consciousness such as extremely deep meditation.
Brainwave entrainment is not just limited to the above frequencies however, in fact the range of usable frequencies is as wide reaching as the amount of human mental, physical and emotional activity. This is so, due to the fact that each brainwave pattern corresponds to a particular mental, emotional or physical state. Here is a short list of additional frequencies:
  • Epsilon - below 0.5hz: This extremely low range frequency has been associated with pain relief, as well as mystical and spiritual experiences.
  • Gamma - 30hz to 60hz: High level mental activity and perception. Also associated with consciousness.
  • Solfeggio Frequencies: There are six frequencies within the solfeggio scale; 396hz, 417hz, 528hz, 639hz, 741hz and 852hz. Respectively these frequencies are identified with; Liberating Guilt and Fear, Facilitating Change, DNA Repair, Connecting, Intuition, Returning to Spiritual Order. The solfeggio frequencies were practiced by the Church for hundreds of years, and have since been scientifically validated.
  • Schumann Resonance: The electromagnetic resonances of planet Earth; 7.82hz, 14.3hz, 20.8hz, 27.3hz and 33.8hz. Often used for harmonious meditations.

The Future of Brainwave Entrainment

The use of sound to induce desired states of consciousness as well as for the use of mental and emotional stimulus is an ancient practice, perhaps even as old as humanity itself. Yet the use of brainwave entrainment as a technology is still very young. New research confirms on an almost monthly basis that entrainment has huge positive potential. Whilst the human mind is little understood, every step towards increased comprehension opens up further areas into the realms of perceiving the nature of consciousness. Brainwave entrainment is serving as a vehicle to both further the science of the human mind, as well as to bring the positive aspects of that science directly into the hands of anyone and everyone. As of now, we face a future of unlimited potential - and it is wonderful that we can all be a part of that right here and now.
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