Binaural beats

October 2011

brainwaves

Many of you have been asking questions about binaural beats since different sounds were added in the Premium and free Relax Melodies applications. Let’s see some of the questions you’ve asked: “How should I use binaural sounds ?”, “ Should I mix two binaural frequencies together?” , “It’s written I must use two earphones to listen these sounds: can you tell me why?”, “How are they supposed to affect my brain if there is no music?”. The concept of binaural beats seems complicated but you’ll see it’s much easier than you think. Let me introduce you to a technology designed to help you control your state of mind.

The brain produces low-frequency pulsations when two tones at slightly different frequencies are presented separately (one to each ear). This resulting a perception of a beating tone as if the frequencies were mixed naturally. However, the tones frequencies must be below 1000 hertz and the differences between the two frequencies must be less or equal to 30 hertz. Otherwise, two different tones will be perceived instead of the above-mentioned beating tone.

It appears that our state of mind would be influenced by brainwaves so binaural beats could help to put the brain into a specific state of mind (more energized, more focused, more relaxed). Indeed, our brain would operate at high frequencies when we are active and at lower frequencies when we are calm. Over the years, many companies have been (and are still) created electronically binaural beats of different frequencies in order to help people to control their state of mind. In fact, it appears that the brain enters in a specific state of mind if it is submitted to a brainwave

Brainwaves frequencies

Delta wave: This is the lowest frequency range (~ 0,5 – 4 Hertz), which is associated to the deepest stages of sleep.

Theta wave: This state, characterized by frequencies between ~ 4 to 7 Hertz, is described as an ideal state for creativity, ideation and short term memory tasks. State of mind desired by people who meditate/pray because they are plunged into a deep relaxation, while awake.

Alpha wave: Frequency range of human brain between ~ 8 to 12 Hertz. This state is a resting, contemplative, drowsy state. Associated to calm, relaxation, and resourcefulness. This range is a prelude for higher levels of awareness.

Beta wave: Frequency range of human brain between ~ 12 and 30 Hertz. These brain waves are associated with an active concentration and alert/mentally engaged mind.

Gamma wave: This is the highest frequency range (~ over 40 hertz). Apparently the only frequency group found throughout all the brain. This range is associated to the unification thoughts process in different parts of the brain and a high mental activity. Indeed, gamma waves have been observed in Tibetan Buddhist monks: there is apparently a correlation between transcendental mental states and gamma waves.

***

There are different binaural beats proposed in Relax Melodies applications, which vary between 2,5 Htz (Dreamless sleep – created to make you enter more easily in the deepest and most important portion of your sleep cycle) to 20 Htz (Concentration – created for active concentration and to help to remain focused) for the Premium version and between 10 Htz (Relaxation – created to help you to start relaxing when you are already in an active state of mind) and 20 Htz for the free version. Considering binaural beats are produced using a beating tone between ears, as mentioned earlier, it is important to use headphones to ear then properly. Consequently, the desired result to put your brain into a specific state of mind won’t be met if you don’t use them.

Advice: For your safety and the safety of others on the road, never drive with headphones, even if you desperately want to relax. In this case, I suggest you to connect your iPhone to your car radio and play one of your favorite mix of regular sounds.

Tip: When I’m at work – and God knows how stressful my job is!-, I first use the Relaxation binaural beat for around 15 minutes. It helps me starting relaxing and to get prepared to stay focused for a couple of hours, I then play the Concentration sound for around 15 minutes too, sometimes more. If you don’t want to fall asleep at work (and eventually get fired!), only use binaural beats in the beta range when you work.

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References

Baker, SN (2007). “Oscillatory interactions between sensorimotor cortex and the periphery”. Current opinion in neurobiology 17 (6): 649–55. doi:10.1016/j.conb.2008.01.007. PMC 2428102. PMID 18339546.

Buzsáki, G (2002). “Theta oscillations in the hippocampus”. Neuron 33 (3): 325–40. doi:10.1016/S0896-6273(02)00586-X. PMID 11832222.

Buzsaki, György (2006). “Cycle 9, The Gamma Buzz”. Rhythms of the brain. Oxford. http://www.amazon.com/dp/0195301064.

Hughes JR. (2008). Gamma, fast, and ultrafast waves of the brain: their relationships with epilepsy and behavior. Epilepsy Behav. Jul;13(1):25-31. PMID 18439878

Kaufman, Marc (January 3, 2005). “Meditation Gives Brain a Charge, Study Finds”. The Washington Post. http:// www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A43006-2005Jan2.html. Retrieved May 3, 2010.

O’Nuallain, Sean. “Zero Power and Selflessness: What Meditation and Conscious Perception Have in Common”. https://www.novapublishers.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=10068. Retrieved 2009-05-30. Journal: Cognitive Sciences 4(2).

Oster G (1973). “Auditory beats in the brain”. Sci. Am. 229 (4): 94–102. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1073-94. PMID 4727697.

Palva, S. and Palva, J.M., New vistas for a-frequency band oscillations, Trends Neurosci. (2007), doi:10.1016/j.tins.2007.02.001

Wahbeh H, Calabrese C, Zwickey H (2007). “Binaural beat technology in humans: a pilot study to assess psychologic and physiologic effects”. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine 13 (1): 25–32. doi:10.1089/acm.2006.6196. PMID 17309374.

Walker, Peter (1999). Chambers dictionary of science and technology. Edinburgh: Chambers. p. 312. ISBN 0-550-14110-3.

W. Singer and C.M. Gray, Visual feature integration and the temporal correlation hypothesis. Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 18 (1995), pp. 555-586

14 thoughts on “Binaural beats

  1. Good writeup. The question about whether it is okay to mix 2 bianural beats together was not answered. Could you answer this question?
    Thanks

  2. I have (skull candy) headphones non specific left-right. Will these binaural beats still work to their fullest on my brain using those headphones? Btw, love your app!

    1. Yes, binaural beats will work on your brain even though you don’t have headphones specific left-right. As long as you use stereo headphones, which means that you can hear different sounds in each headphone, it will work.

  3. Is it okay to use both the binaural and the IT beats of the same effect (such as for Dreamless Sleep)? Or should only one, binaural OR IT, be used?
    Thank you for a beautiful and easy to use and personalized app! GREAT JOB!!!

    Thanks,
    Angela

    1. It’s a very good question to which there is no consensus. To fully enjoy the benefits of each technology, we recommend not to mix binaural sounds and isochronic tones together.

    1. Our application Relax Melodies Oriental offers the opportunity to buy sounds that alter your brainwaves, which are called isochronic tones. This technology does not require headphones. To answer your question, just set the volume to be comfortable and enjoy the benefits!

  4. Should the binaural beats be used on their own or are they mixable with the other sounds? If so, are there any recommendations or guidelines regarding mixing with the other sounds?

  5. Would there be any negative aspect or influence of the binaural beats to us? Last year I read some magazines saying that things involving changing the brain waves could have negative influence.

    I know this question imprudent, and I’m sorry for my imprudence. To me, your app is great. Good job!

    1. Here’s an answer we found on yahoo answers:
      http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110217194412AAgXhj5

      The general disclaimers on them is that you shouldnt use them if you have seizures, and should consult a doctor if you are a child or have psychiatric diagnoses or have heart problems

      You should not use them while driving or operating heavy machinery.

      Its no more dangerous than listening to songs on earphones. The only thing different is that the right and left channels arent playing the same thing or anything that directly compliments the other, such as a snare drum on the right channel and a keyboard on the left channel. The channels are played in different megahertz, creating a beat effect. Some programs or tracks will just use tones, others while use white noise or ocean or rain or whatever.

      Google binaural beats, read the information that comes with any binaural beat program. If you use them, why havent you read it? And if you are trying to use them without really knowing what you are doing, I assume you are only listening to presets…. theres a whole lot you can do is far as training your mind and meditation once you know how to work the presets.

      The beats simulate and align your brain to the wavelengths typically produced for the mood you are going for. For example, if you want vivid dreams, you can set the binaural beats to a beat that will align your brain to the pattern humans typically exhibit while dreaming. The presets will use an avg, if you set your own, with trial and error or an eeg you can measure where you prefer the beats to be set at.

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