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  • Writer's pictureKristie Bray, LPCC

Music to my Ears - Binaural Beats

By: Kristie Bray, LPCC

Over the past year I have been having patients with anxiety and a few other disorders try binaural beats. Let's just say it has been a game changer for several patients that have been willing to consistently listen and follow the program we have set up.


What Are Binaural Beats? Binaural beats are a type of sound wave therapy it is a combinations of tones that cause an auditory illusion. For example, when wearing earphones separately, you may have noticed that you can hear slightly different pitches in each ear. Both tones playing in each earphone channel will sound stable with no vibrato effect. Once you wear two earphones and now listening to both the left and right channels at the same time, you start hearing a beat!

The intentionally adjusted inaccuracy between the two frequencies introduced in each ear causes an auditory illusion. Whereas each ear is receiving a different frequency, the brain perceives them together as one pulsating sound (beat). The brain then aligns with the frequency of the beat. This phenomenon is called Frequency Following Response. The human mind is easily trained to achieve a certain mental state when listening to binaural beats. This comes with significant benefits.

How Do Binaural Beats Work? Two slightly different pure tones are entering the auditory channels and cause the basilar membranes to resonate with the frequency of the signal. Two tones that are close together create an interference (overlapping effect) on the surface of the basilar membrane.

Two audio signals that are almost the same, can not be distinguished as separate tones. Instead of hearing these two frequencies isolated from each other, we perceive an average tone resulting from the synchronization of these two initial signals. This average tone appears as a pulse but the right term for this phenomenon is binaural beat. For example, if the left ear receives a frequency of 300 Hz, while the right ear registers 295 Hz, then the binaural beat will be 5 Hz. In practice, the listener will observe sound pulsating (beats) five times per second. For the best results, the frequencies are better to be below 1000 Hz.

These frequencies act as the bandwidth of brain activity. Different levels of bandwidths are linked directly to the frequency response they create. Frequencies exhibit themselves in five different categories:

  1. Delta: Frequencies operate at 0.5-4 Hz, leading to a deep sleep cycle that is typically dream-free

  2. Theta: These patterns help increase creativity, meditation abilities, REM sleep, and reduce anxiety at a frequency of 4-7 Hz

  3. Alpha: Binaural beats at a frequency of 7-13 Hz improves the chances of deep relaxation and refreshment. Promotes positivity and decrease in anxiety.

  4. Beta: The frequency of 13-30 Hz improves concentration, problem solving, memory and alertness.

  5. Gamma: 30-50 Hz encourages a high level of arousal when awake. Helpful in enhancing training and learning.

Understanding the different frequencies is beneficial, as users are then able to truly leverage the benefits they offer.

As you can see, each binaural beat frequency comes with its own advantages and is meant to be used in different situations.

Finding the right frequency for your needs is important along with correct program.

Benefits of Binaural beats 1. Decreased Anxiety Studies have shown that specific frequencies can reduce symptoms of anxiety significantly. Studies have demonstrated that individuals experienced a 26% drop in anxiety after listening to binaural beats.

2. Increased Focus Can increase attention span and focus. They have helped students with ADHD and other learning impairments focus and complete task.

3. Improved Memory Alpha waves influence working memory. This memory is the mental facility involving easy recall and retaining of different information. Long-term memory, on the other hand, improved through Beta frequency beats.

Short- term memory benefits the most from Theta binaural beats.

4. More Creativity If practiced regularly, binaural beats can help increase inspirational, out-of-the-box thinking.

5. Improved Sleep Theta waves can help usher in R.E.M sleep.

6. Reduced Pain Perception More research is being done in this area. However is is believed that theta waves will be critical to reducing the experience of pain. Scientists are researching how to harness beats for a short-term solution to severe pain problems. 7. Improved Mood Theta waves stimulate endorphins within the brain, leading to a rush of good feelings!

8. Tinnitus

Patient have reported having a reduction in tinnitus symptoms with our specific program for tinnitus.

9. Better Cognitive Flexibility The frequency of the beats, especial GAMMA, stimulates nerve endings in the brain to increase activity and response rate.

10. Increased Relaxation Many individuals find it challenging to relax and let go of the day's stresses and worries. Sound therapy is proven to wash away feelings of stress and induce deep contentment and relaxation.

11. Improved Confidence Music, in general, is proven to come with immense confidence-boosting abilities. Listening to sounds with a great rhythm and melody can be an instant mood booster. And when you feel happy, you also feel more confident.

Be sure to check in with a physician about any physical symptoms you may be experiencing it's important to understand our bodies but get accurate feedback about conditions that could be going on inside.


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