Receptive Sound Therapy uses auditory stimuli to help make positive changes in a persons mood, attitude, and actions. By positively influencing thoughts and feelings, it aims to improve their general life quality. As opposed to psychological stimulus, which uses a sound or a piece of music that has an existing association to a place, person, thought or experience to trigger a memory-based reaction, a neurological response is initiated by the properties of a sound itself and not by any pre–existing associations.
One way to achieve a neurological response is via Brainwave Entrainment, which involves synchronising brainwaves to an external stimulus. There are a number of techniques that can do this, but let’s examine one called “Binaural Beats”. It is an effective tool for influencing both cognitive and physiological processes – such as memory, creativity or pain management. Binaural Beats can speed-up or slow-down brainwaves to influence everything from relaxation, sleep, focus, and general well-being. In neurophysiology, the effect of Binaural Beats has been examined extensively and the influence they can have on our brains has been thoroughly documented.
How Do Binaural Beats Work?
Binaural Beats are responsible for a psychoacoustic phenomenon that occurs in the brain when the right and left ears are exposed to sine waves at a constant amplitude with a slight difference in frequency for each ear. For example, if a sine wave at 430 Hz is played in the left ear, and at the same time a sine wave at 440 Hz is played to the right ear (preferably over headphones), then the listener will perceive a pulsating tone of 10 Hz. The pulse produced in the head corresponds to the difference between the two frequencies.
There have been studies that have investigated the effect of Binaural Beats on the human organism – both on cognitive processes, e.g. creativity, memory, and physical aspects, such as pain. In the following page, we will take a look at some of this neurophysiological research.
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 were stimulated with various acoustic signals: Binaural Beats of 5Hz and 13Hz and white noise, respectively. The results showed a significant positive effect as for those exposed twice a day to 15 minutes of 5Hz Binaural Beats.
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 was 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, given various tasks requiring creative thinking.
In one part of the experiment, divergent thinking was examined. Tasks were set, e.g. to enumerate as many uses of a 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 affects divergent thinking. On the other hand, the third non-binaural sound had no effect whatsoever on convergent thinking.
The prospect of surgery often leaves patients with a sense of anxiety. This can be explained by the feared loss of control, the unfamiliar environment, and 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 level of anxiety for those who had listened to Binaural Beats.
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.
Can Binaural Beats be Measured?
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. This can be measured when a large number of neurons in the brain, send small electro-chemical signals to each other. This activity can be detected and visualized on an electroencephalogram (EEG). The voltage fluctuations on the surface of the head are measured and show the electrical activity of the brain as brainwaves.
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.
SonicTonic provides both options.
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Based on a German posting by musicfox.com