What are binaural beats?

In this article we are going to answer the question ‘’What are binaural beats?’’ we will explain what binaural beats are, how they work and how they are applied.

What are binaural beats?

Binaural beats are an illusion of auditory processing that occurs when listening with headphones to a signal that is emitted with a different acoustic frequency in each ear.

For example, if a frequency of 325 Hz is emitted in the right earphone and a frequency of 315 Hz in the left earphone, the binaural rhythm will be 10 Hz, and our brain will perceive a low-frequency pulsation resulting from the composition of the two sounds.

The frequency difference cannot be greater than 40Hz, because then our brain will perceive them as two different sounds.

The theoretical basis behind binaural sounds is that our brain waves tend to synchronize with the binaural frequency. By varying this frequency, the brain can be “entrained” to one state or another.

Studies of binaural sounds since 1939

Nick Ashton, the creator of the I-Doser program, is not the discoverer of binaural sounds as a method to create specific moods. In fact, what is now known as sound or digital drugs was discovered in 1839 by the German researcher Heinrich Wilhem Dove, who described them as signals of different frequencies that sound differently in each ear.

When the brain processes it, a third tone frequency is integrated, which is the so-called binaural wave. In 1985, Robert Monroe, an American researcher specializing in altered consciousness, noted that binaural tones at beta frequencies (16 to 25 Hertz) are associated with concentration.

Ten years later, a Canadian psychologist originally from Malaysia, Chock C. Hiew, conducted a study in which he demonstrated that binaural tones in the delta (one to four hertz) and theta (four to eight) ranges are associated with relaxation, meditation and creative states, as well as helping to fall asleep.

Use of binaural beats in Medicine and Psychopathology

Outside of attention deficit disorder and developmental disorders, it is in psychopathology and behavioral medicine that the effects of binaural sounds have been the most studied.

Binaural sounds with a frequency difference of 1 to 4 Hz cause the appearance of delta waves which induce sleep as well as wakefulness phenomena.

There are also some publications concerning its interest in surgery (anesthesia) and pain control. Thus, two recent publications in the journal “anaesthesia” describe, – the effects on the dose of anesthetic required during a light surgical intervention, listening to binaural sounds which significantly decreases this dose compared to listening to neutral sounds.

The other effects of listening to binaural sounds on the preoperative anxiety of patients. In this study, patients’ pre-intervention anxiety was measured using the STAI, Spielberger’s State/Characteristic Anxiety Scale; anxiety was significantly lower in patients who listened to binaural sounds than in those who listened to neutral sounds.

On the other hand, it was shown that listening to binaural sounds of alpha frequency reduced blood pressure and heart rate by 4 to 10%, decreased the sensation of pain by an average of 50%, decreased the blood percentage of melatonin by an average of 6% while the percentages of blood beta-endorphins increased by an average of 14%. In the same subjects, the study noted a 23% increase in serotonin and an 18% decrease in norepinephrine.

Use of Binaural Beats in Psychotherapy

Listening to binaural sounds requires only an audio CD player and stereo headphones. It should therefore be able to be easily inserted into a psychotherapy device, the sound having to be regulated so as not to obstruct the session.

We can imagine different applications of this device: relaxation, reduction of anxiety, treatment of emotions, simplification of memories, simplification of associations, etc.

For example, the effect of synchronization of the cerebral hemispheres by listening to binaural sounds. The EMDR technique (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) consists in alternately stimulating each hemisphere in a fast way by asking to follow with the eyes a pen.

It is used to treat psycho-traumatisms; the most announced hypothesis to explain the effectiveness of this treatment is the inter-hemispheric synchronization, which favors the treatment of emotions.

We will note that the same effects were obtained by the alternative stimulation of each side of the body, for example by touching alternatively each side of the body on each thigh or on each arm, as well as by a sound that would be heard alternatively from one ear to the other.

Thus, it is interesting to include binaural sounds in a psychotherapy device with the same indications as an EMDR protocol.

Properties of binaural frequencies

Some of the properties of binaural frequencies are:

Delta Waves (O.5 to 4 Hz)

  • 0.5 Hz – Relaxation, helps relieve headaches.
  • 0.5-1.5 Hz – Pain relief. endorphin release.
  • 0.9 Hz – Feeling of euphoria.
  • 1 Hz – Well-being. Harmony and balance.
  • 2.5 Hz – Production of endogenous opiates (analgesic, reduce anxiety).
  • 2.5 Hz – Relieves migraine pain. Produces endogenous opiates.
  • 3.4 Hz – Helps to achieve restful sleep.
  • 3.5 Hz – Feeling of oneness with all. Regeneration of the whole being.
  • 3.9 Hz – Self-renewal, improved inner awareness.
  • 4.0 Hz – Enkephalin stress release reduced.
  • 4.0 Hz – This allows the brain to produce enkephalins which are the natural killer of pain.
  • 4.0 Hz – Full memory scan and enkephalins.
  • 4.0 Hz – Vital for memory and learning. Problem-solving, subject of nomenclature.
  • 1-3 Hz – Deep relaxation, restful sleep. Tranquillity and peace.

Theta waves (4 to 8 Hz)

  • 4.5 Hz – Brings about shamanic/Tibetan state of consciousness, Tibetan chanting.
  • 4.9 Hz – Induce relaxation and deep sleep.
  • 4.9 Hz – Introspection. Relaxation, meditation.
  • 5 Hz – Reduces sleep requirement. Theta replaces the need for ample sleep.
  • 5.35 Hz – Allows for relaxing, free and efficient breathing.
  • 5.5 Hz – Inner guidance, intuition.
  • 6.5 Hz – Theta frequency center. Activates creative frontal lobe.
  • 7.5 Hz – Activates creative thinking for art, invention, music. Problem solving.
  • 7.5 Hz – Ease of overcoming troublesome problems.
  • 7.83 Hz – Schumann resonance grounding. Earthing, and meditation, leave you revitalized.
  • 3 – 8 Hz – Deep relaxation, meditation. Lucid dreaming.
  • 3 – 8 Hz – Increased memory, attention, and creativity.
  • 4-7 Hz – deep inner peace, emotional healing. Reduces mental fatigue.
  • 4-7 Hz – Deep meditation, brain waves to short sleep.

Alpha waves (8 to 12 Hz)

8- 10 Hz Super-learning of new information, memorization and comprehension.

8.22 Hz – Associated with the mouth. brings creativity.

10 Hz – Enhanced serotonin release. Mood elevation, arousal, stimulant.

10 Hz – Provides relief from lost sleep, and improves overall mood.

10 Hz – Stimulates a good mood. Used to drastically reduce headaches.

10 Hz – Clarity, subconscious correlation. Releases serotonin.

11 Hz – Relaxed yet awake state.

12 Hz – Focused, mental stability.

11-14 Hz – Increased attention and awareness.

12 – 14 Hz – Learning frequency, good for passively absorbing information.

Beta Waves (13 to 30 Hz)

14 Hz – Awakening, alertness. Concentration on tasks, focus, vitality.

16 Hz – Low hearing range. Releases oxygen/calcium into cells.

12 – 15 Hz – Relaxed focus, improves attentive skills.

13-27 Hz – Promotes focused attention to external stimuli.

13-30 Hz – Problem-solving, conscious thinking.

18-24 Hz – Euphoria, can lead to headaches, anxiety.

Binaural sound therapy and its benefits

The objective of binaural sound therapy is to reduce stress, anxiety or insomnia through an auditory phenomenon that occurs when listening to a slightly different frequency tone in each ear.

Binaural sounds modify the mood by affecting the brain in a direct way.

This is achieved by the emission of a certain wave frequency that produces significant effects on the organism.

Some people define binaural sounds as the new “technological drug”.

The objective of the auditory phenomenon is to create in our brain a sensation of three-dimensionality.

This effect is achieved by generating two slightly different types of sound frequencies in each ear through headphones, so that we end up perceiving a third sound, one that provokes a series of sensations at the same time.

Calm, well-being, tingling, sensory stimulation… What produces this type of experience varies quite a lot from one person to another, however, what does seem to be clear is that it leaves almost no one indifferent.

These sounds are “beats” that operate at specific frequencies to stimulate specific brainwaves; in fact, binaural therapy is an emerging solution that has worked for many people as a treatment for anxiety, depression, stress and concentration problems.

To test alpha wave stimulation with binaural music, just take a look at the huge list of content available on various digital platforms such as YouTube or Spotify.

It is recommended to listen with headphones at any time of the day, for a minimum of 30 minutes a day that can be extended according to personal needs.

So … in short, the binaural waves, positively stimulate our brain by concentrating on thoughts of well-being, gratitude, efficiency and personal power.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know!

References

Chaieb L, Wilpert EC, Reber TP, Fell J. Auditory beat stimulation and its effects on cognition and mood States. Front Psychiatry . 2015 May 12;6:70

Goodin P, Ciorciari J, Baker K, Carey AM, Harper M, Kaufman J. A high-density EEG investigation into steady state binaural beat stimulation. PLoS One . 2012;7(4):e34789

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