What are Binaural Beats and how do they work?

One of the ingredients used in SonicTonic is Binaural Beats, but what are these and how do they work?

What are Binaural Beats?

Binaural beats are sounds that are heard in the left and right ear as two slightly different frequency tones, yet perceived as one. So the binaural auditory beat that a person hears is the difference in frequency between the left and the right ear. Binaural beats are always lower than 1000 hertz (Hz) as it is at these frequencies that the brain detects the binaural beat.

For example, if the left ear registers a tone at 440 Hz and the right at 430 Hz (preferably with headphones) the binaural beat that is heard by the brain is the difference between the two frequencies — 10 Hz.

A number of studies have proven that listening to Binaural Beats can influence brainwaves and that the brain will synchronize to the frequency given by the Binaural Beats, which is why they’re used in the Receptive Sound Therapy in SonicTonic.

The effects on the brain, or “Brainwave entrainment” can be measured when a large number of neurons in the brain, send small electro-chemical signals to each other. These can be detected and visualized on an electroencephalogram (EEG).

How do Binaural Beats work?

There are a number of studies that have investigated the effect of Binaural Beats on the human body – both on cognitive processes, e.g. creativity, memory, and physical aspects, such as pain.

They can help with memory…

A study by Prof. T. Ortis investigated the effect of Binaural Beats on memory performance. As part of the experiment, twenty subjects were asked to remember incoherent words and then recite them back from memory.

During the study, which was conducted over a 15-day period, they heard various acoustic signals: Binaural Beats of 5Hz and 13Hz and white noise, respectively. The results showed a significantly positive effect as for those exposed twice a day to 15 minutes of 5Hz Binaural Beats.

… boost creativity

At Leiden University in the Netherlands, an experiment explored the connection between Binaural Beats and creativity. In the study, 24 subjects performed 3 experiments per day: In the first, they were stimulated with a Binaural Beat using an Alpha frequency of 10 Hz, in the second with a Binaural Beat using a Gamma frequency of 40 Hz and in the third with a non-binaural, constant tone of 340Hz as a control situation.

The order of the three experiments varied from participant to participant. At the beginning of the experiment, the participants were stimulated with one of the three sound sources, and then, while the audio signal was on, they were given various tasks that required creative thinking.

In one part of the experiment, the researchers looked at divergent thinking, so tasks were set to test this, e.g. participants were asked to list as many uses of a specific household item as possible in a given period of time.

The second part of the task involved the study of convergent thinking. Participants were given the task of finding a word that can be linked to the three others, such as combining“super” with ’market’, ‘star’ and ‘hero’.

The study found that stimulation with Binaural Beats, regardless of frequency, positively affected divergent thinking.

…reduce anxiety

The prospect of surgery often leaves patients feeling anxious. This can be explained by the loss of control, the unfamiliar environment, along with the perceived risk of the procedure. Dr. Padmanabhan and his colleagues investigated the influence of Binaural Beats on the feelings of anxiety experienced before an upcoming operation. The study was conducted at the Sunderland Royal Hospital over a 6-month period with a total of 108 patients who were awaiting surgery under general anaesthesia.

About 45-60 minutes before surgery, participants were asked to complete a questionnaire to help them understand their subjective anxiety. Thereafter, each participant had one of the following randomly-triggered actions:

  • A Binaural Beat embedded in a soundtrack was played to them
  • A soundtrack without a Binaural Beat was played to them, or
  • No audio file was played to them (the Participants were allowed to read or watch TV, for example).

Participants were then asked to complete the same questionnaire again. The result was a significant reduction in the levels of anxiety for those who had listened to Binaural Beats.

…reduce pain

A study by Dr. Donna D. Zampi investigated whether Binaural Beats can be used effectively to relieve chronic pain. To this end, 36 patients who were suffering from various types of chronic pain were divided into two groups. One group listened to Binaural Beats at 6Hz for 20 minutes on 14 consecutive days, while the other group listened to a non-binaural tone of 300Hz as placebo. Subsequently, the groups were changed for the next 14 days. As a result, it could be proven that the perceived pain could be significantly lowered by listening to Binaural Beats.

It is safe to say, it is scientifically proven that Binaural Beats can positively influence various cognitive and physical processes, such as memory, creativity, fear or pain. Many listeners perceive Binaural Beats to be more pleasant when they are embedded in music as opposed to listening to pure sine waves.

With SonicTonic you can do both, so if you would like to see the effects of Binaural Beats for yourself, download the app and try out them out today.




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Based on a German posting by musicfox.com


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