What are Binaural Beats? thumbnail

What are Binaural Beats?

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    What is a binaural beat?

    Binaural beats are also referred to as binaural tones or hemisphere synchronization waves (hemisync for short). Despite the fact that the human mind perceives binaural beats under certain circumstances, this peripheral phenomenon does not technically exist outside of the auditory processing lobes of the brain. Fascinatingly enough, binaural beats are the result of two slightly different, but similar tones (within 40 hertz of one another) that have been separated into the left and right earpieces of a pair of stereo headphones. When the human brain starts to process these slightly different pitches, it will generate an auditory pulsating vibration (or beat) in response to the oscillation of the two different frequencies. In essence, a binaural beat is the result of the human mind filling in missing information, and synchronizing two non synchronized noises into a single tone.

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    What are the effects of binaural beats?

    Binaural beats have entered into the modern scientific community for two primary reasons.

    1. Phenomena such as binaural beats are of great interest to neuroscientists who want to study the various anomalies and circumstances which make up the human brain and hearing mechanisms.
    2. This specific auditory trend has been observed to entrain the human brain to generate certain brain wave patterns, thereby inducing specific and observable physiological and neurological benefits.

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    How do binaural beats interact with the brain's physiology?

    Evidence suggests that the binaural beats are generated in the brainstem’s superior olivary nucleus, the first site of contralateral integration in the auditory system (Oster, 1973). Studies also indicate that the frequency-following response originates from the inferior colliculus (Smith, Marsh, & Brown, 1975)" (Owens & Atwater, 1995). This activity is directed to the main cortex where it can be recorded by scalp electrodes.

    One of the most exciting physiological impacts that binaural beats have been scientifically demonstrated to produce in the brain system is associated with relief from mental fatigue. Your brain constantly modulates its potassium and sodium levels to allow for maximum osmosis and the transport of chemicals, hormones, nutrients, and information. When the brain has spent an extended amount of time in a beta wave state the ratio of sodium to potassium becomes unbalanced, thereby decreasing neurological processing and functional efficiency. 5 to 15 minutes of theta brainwave stimulation resets your sodium potassium ratio and dramatically enhances mental clarity.

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    How do binaural beats impact brain waves?

    In essence, the process by which binaural beats can modulate human brain waves is known as the frequency-following response or entrainment (Smith, Marsh, & Brown, 1975). The basic concept is as follows: the interaction between two slightly different oscillations in the left and right ear create a pulse which repeats at a certain frequency (measured in hertz). When the brain begins to generate this binaural pattern it will complement the frequency of the pattern with a brainwave that would normally be experienced at the same frequency.

    For example: if you take two sound waves and split them into each earphone, one at 235 hertz and 225 hertz, the binaural difference would be 10 hertz. Once the brain was creating a binaural beat at 10 hertz it would complement this pattern by creating alpha brain waves (which also oscillate at 10 hertz).

    Using this frequency-following response cycle you can train the brain to quickly generate any brainwave as so long as the binaural tone matches up with the frequency oscillation of an existing brain wave.

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    What specific benefits do binaural beats offer?

    One of the most impressive and important tenants of emerging binaural beat technology and experimentation are the constant fresh possibilities and unexplored territory. Since 1839, binaural beats have been classically used to assist with the creation of five primary brain wave types, each one with its different results:

    Frequency range Name: Usually associated with:

    > 40 Hz Gamma waves: Higher mental activity, including perception, problem solving, fear, and consciousness

    13–40 Hz Beta waves: Active, busy or anxious thinking and active concentration, arousal, cognition

    7–13 Hz Alpha waves: Relaxation (while awake), pre-sleep and pre-wake drowsiness

    4–7 Hz Theta waves: Dreams, deep meditation, REM sleep

    < 4 Hz Delta waves: Deep dreamless sleep, loss of body awareness

    There are a variety of studies which have been performed using binaural beat technology that have focused on relaxation, concentration, and states of consciousness. All these studies have indicated and validated the capacity of binaural beats to dramatically assist with asymmetric hemisphere balancing and the achievement of predeterminable states of consciousness and emotion.

    Major studies have included the binaurally generated utilization of alpha-theta bursts for overcoming depression, anxiety, preoperative discomfort, and repressed memories. Beta waves have been utilized to increase focus, memory, decrease learning times, and to increase desirable hormones such as endorphins and dopamine. (Monroe, 1985, Kennerly, 1994) Theta waves have been evidenced to significantly decrease sleeping necessities, engineer youthful brain function, and entrain meditative/psychic/out of body states. Delta waves have been shown to decrease depression, enhance healing times, decrease trait anxiety and general anxiety (Hiew, 1995). Gamma waves are the least studied but have been linked to mental clarity, hyper awareness, and re-occurring epiphanies.

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    What is the link between binaural beats and human consciousness?

    One of the most fascinating elements of the scientific exploration associated with binaural beats is the ability for consciousness modulation that borders on the paranormal and spiritual. Robert Monroe of the Monroe institute was one of the first individuals to use binaural beats in a wide spread and commercial capacity for the purposes of meditation, out of body/astral projection, remote viewing and other paranormal experiences. In fact, Monroe claimed to have experienced multiple spontaneous out-of-body experiences in response to binaural beat stimulation during the initial phases of his testing. Indeed, there have been thousands of registered accounts of remote viewing, psychokinesis, astral projection, and lucid sleeping patterns associated with the repetitive use of binaural beat generated hemispheric brain synchronization.

    One of the main explanations for this phenomenon is actually clued to within modern neuroscience’s inability to pinpoint the actual location and processing animation of the mind, within the parameters of the physical brain. Generally, it has been the neuroscientific community’s perspective that the mind originates from electrical stimuli present inside of a brain during its functioning. However, this hypothesis has increasingly been evidenced as unreasonable due to scores of studies which have been released over the last couple decades, indicating high levels of consciousness in situations of low to no brain activity. In fact, high levels of consciousness has been thoroughly verified and observed in individuals who have experienced near death phenomenon, deep meditation/hypnosis, coma, and traumatic incidents. With over 25 studies in the last 30 years (Fischer, 1971;West 1980; Delmonte, 1984; Goleman 1988; Jevning, Wallace, & Beidenbach, 1992; Wallace, 1986; Mavromatis, 1991) it’s becoming increasingly more apparent that the current neurological explanation for mind generation is insufficient and should be thoroughly reevaluated. (Hunt, 1995)

    One of the most significant areas of scientific study that indicates this exact dilemma takes place in the arena of remote viewing. A study done in 1993 (McMoneagle) verified the ability of certain human beings to accurately relay information about a location/object that was unknown to them and that could not, in possible way, have been known to them prior to the remote viewing experiment, via the use of hypnogogic and/or meditative states. Therefore, it is worthy to note that there is a verified and established link between synchronized hemispheric coordination and seemingly uncanny or paranormal human psychic ability. (Sabourin, Cutcomb, Crawford, & Pribram, 1993)

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    What are the everyday applications for binaural beats?

    Binaural beats can be used to balance hemisphere coordination within the brain lobes and create an organized neurological system with a unified brain wave pattern. Therefore, any experience, emotion, or result associated either with a singular brain wave or a combination of brain waves over time is achievable with the assistance of binaural beat utilization. You can tune binaural beats to reflect a sleep pattern, a relaxation pattern, a meditation pattern, an alert focus pattern, an epiphany pattern or you can investigate the subtleties of professional and artesian quality binaural beats that are crafted to impact major life patterns, including optimism levels, goal setting/follow through, addiction management, spirituality enhancement, lucid dreaming and more. You can elect to listen to unadulterated binaural beats, or you can pair them with enjoyable ambient music and three dimensional sound scapes for enhanced stimulation and contemplation. The options are endless and infinitely customizable!

    "Music, relaxation exercises, guided imagery, and verbal suggestion have all been used to enhance the state-changing effects of the binaural beat" (Owens & Atwater, 1995).

    Binaural beats are a phenomenal tool for sharing consciousness states between meditators and positively impacting your general quality of life and overall performance. With all of the electrical signals, television sets, electromagnetic waves, and disorienting chemicals surrounding us in the modern urban environment, its a logical and reasonable decision to assist brain functioning and mind synchronization with any tools at your disposal. Many established master meditators have taken their practice to an entirely new level in a surprisingly short amount of time by incorporating binaural beat synchronization into their routine. If you’re looking to reach the highest peaks or simply breakthrough to the next level, binaural beats are an easy, enjoyable, safe, and proven method to maximize your potential and reach deeper levels of self awareness.

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    Who typically listens to binaural beats?

    Anyone can listen to binaural beats! The most common purveyors of the binaural beat movement have been meditators, busy professionals, clinical psychologists, people dealing with addiction or trauma, and individuals seeking to enhance their general quality of life. There’s a time and place for every brain wave pattern or combination under heaven and so there’s a circumstance which can be benefited by asymmetrical hemisphere synchronization in everybody’s life.

    Binaural beats are increasingly becoming associated with the meditation and yoga movement that emphasizes an entire variety of health food products, healthy activities, and unity oriented concepts as fundamental principles for life enrichment and sustainability. For more information on how binaural beats compliment a health conscious routine please visit our lifestyle section.

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    Are binaural beats habit forming?

    No, absolutely not, you may not want to stop listening but there are no physiological mechanisms which could make a human addicted to binaural beats.

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    Can I listen to binaural beats on my mp3 player/iPod?

    Certainly, just download the mp3 file from our website or from any of the professional binaural beat websites and you can easily load the audio onto a data CD or directly into your portable MP3 player.

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    Are there any known adverse affects for re-occurring binaural beat use?

    There are no known or clinically evidenced potential negative ramifications associated with occasional or heavy binaural beat utilization.

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    What is the best time to listen to binaural beats?

    That’s really up to you! Use a binaural beat any time of the day that you want a specific state of consciousness. Generally it’s advisable to use Alpha, feta, and delta waves during sleep or meditation and beta and gamma waves during activity or concentration. However, we certainly advise experimenting with what waves work best for you at any given time and during any given activity.

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    I'm 14 and i read on a site that binaural beats can have negative effects on people under 18, i used them several times and i don't feel anything unusual.

    Binaural beats are completely safe for anyone at any age. But I do not recommend using them on any child who is unaware that they are listening to binaural beats, like children under 3. Whoever is listening to binaural beats should be aware that they are listening to brain wave altering frequencies, otherwise one might feel different and not know why.

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    How long should a session last? How many sessions per day?

    How long a session should last is completely up to you, however long you feel comptroble. But be aware that it takes about 8 minutes for the binaural beat to become the dominant frequency in the mind.

    Again you can have as many sessions per day as you would like, many people like to have a session in the morning and at night, but its up to you. If you are using binaural beats for more than two sessions a day you should probably change the track so that your brain doesn't become "accustomed" to same the binaural beat frequencies. As it has been shown that at some point (which is different for different people) we become accustomed to the same binaural beat tracks and require a slight change to achieve the same affect.

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    Doesnt the MP3 audio coding mask-off or corrupt the original binaural effects ?

    The short answer:
    MP3 Encoding, in most cases, does not effect your ability to be entrained by binaural beats.

    In sum:
    I wouldn't worry about mp3 encoding interfering with binaural beats unless the encoding was very low (sub 128) and there is a background voice to the track.

    Explanation:
    Binaural beats tend to be very simple tracks, and the encoding doesn't really degrade the track in any perceivable way. Of course a very lower bit rate mp3 encoding (like 112kbps or 96kpbs) will sound a bit more choppy than a higher bit rate encoding, so one should look for higher bit-rate mp3's, around the 192kps to 320kps, for absolute best results. MP3 encoding preserves the binaural beat very well. As long as you can hear the "wawawa" sound of the binaural beat the recording is good and working.

    To test your track:
    Listen with one headphone in one ear, you should hear just a simple tone; 'eeeee' then listen with the other headphone in the other ear you should also hear a simple tone, but slightly different; 'deeeee'. Now listen to them both together and you should hear a "waawaawaa" sound, that is the binaural beat. If you hear that the track is working and the mp3 encoding has not effected the track (99% the case).

    Low bit-rate mp3 encoding might effect tracks with background music/noise:
    If your track has background music or background white/brown/pink noise, then concentrate on the tones and try to ignore the background noise. If its hard for you to hear any tones at all then yes, maybe, the encoding is to low and at some points the important tones have been cut out by the mp3 encoding. Though this is very hard to tell with the naked ear, as binaural beats have shown to be effective even at the threshold of human hearing (i.e. really low volumes).

    For a more in depth analysis of your track check out Bavsa, made by Jim Peters of SBaGen fame; http://uazu.net/bavsa/ this tool will show you, definitely if your track has been effected by mp3 encoding.

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    I am completely deaf in my right ear, but have excellent hearing in my left. Can listening to binaural sound affect my brain as well or in similar ways as to a person with normal hearing?

    Sorry no. Binaural beats require that the right and left ear both hear something different. BUT, you can still use technologies like monorual beats, and isochronic tones.

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    can I stop listening at any time or should I listen to the full recording?

    You don't have to listen to the full recording, but for the best results it is best to listen for at least 8 minutes as this is the time needed for the binaural beats to take effect. For a short session I recommend at least 10 to 15 minutes.

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    is it feasible to change your dna thru the binaural beats? I stumbled upon these beats about 2 months ago and have played the theta, lucid dreaming most nights and have quite intense dreams! I have aslo listened to the beats for a 12 hrlong period straight. Going thru each of the waves, and realizing that I have been there for 12 hrs. Is that normal? I've also noticed enhanced senses, faster healing times and faster reaction time, and the abilt to recall memories quickly.

    I haven't personally come across any literature or scientific data that binaural beats can change your DNA. That being said, I believe that the mind is a very powerful thing that can produce profound affects on the body which can include DNA change. So I wouldn't rule it out as impossible...

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