When the two different sounds are heard, the brain tries to find the middle ground between them. (“www.chriscade”) “For instance, if you play a sound at 100hz in one ear, and play a sound at 108hz in the other, the brain will make the middle sound: 104hz.” (“What Are Binaural Beats? How It Was Discovered? – Binaural …”)
This is what is known as frequency followed response. “The brainwaves want to follow the sound and match it.” (“What Are Binaural Beats? How It Was Discovered? – Binaural …”) This process is called entrainment.
While it is common to use sounds to get this effect, there are other options. Some people can use visual stimulation, and some use both the visual and aural stimulation together to produce the effect. (“Listening to the Binaural Beat – EagerLearner.com”)
There is a need to be cautious when using visual stimulus however as it can trigger epilepsy and cause seizures in those prone to them.
Who found out about them?
“Ideas such as binaural beats being used to help meditation and relaxation may sound a little out there.” (“Statement of Rights”) So where did the idea come from? Was it some strange thought that was conceived to sell a pile of new age ideas? (“Listening to the Binaural Beat – EagerLearner.com”)
Hundreds of years ago it was discovered that if you played one note in one ear, and another in the other, a new note or tone appeared to be heard inside your head. However, it was not until 1839 that the concept was proven to be true after it was scientifically evaluated and noted to be true.
Prussian physicist and meteorologist, Heinrich Wilhelm Dove, discovered the effect of binaural beats on the brain in 1839. (“What Are Binaural Beats? How It Was Discovered? – Binaural …”) Dove had an overly broad career which included over three hundred papers on experimental physics. He discovered this effect early on in his career and then spent extended periods of time exploring it in more depth, discovering the ways in which it affects the brain. (“What Are Binaural Beats? How It Was Discovered? – Binaural …”)
He discovered that playing slightly different beats into each ear produces a perception of beats that are not actually there. This is the essence of binaural beats. (“What Are Binaural Beats? How It Was Discovered? – Binaural …”) It feels a little like a wha wha sound inside your head, like the feeling of all the car windows down as you are heading down the highway, or an opera singer’s vibrato. If you have ever listened to the sound of a baby’s heart in utero, that wha wah sound will sound a little similar. If two slightly different frequencies are playing into either ear the brain tries to find the common ground which gives this wha wha effect. (“What Are Binaural Beats? How It Was Discovered? – Binaural …”)
Dove also made important discoveries about a raft of other areas, including observing cyclones travel the earth clockwise in the southern hemisphere but anticlockwise in the northern hemisphere. He had a lot of influence over the development of meteorological science, looking at the effect of our climate on the growth of plants, and how heat is distributed over the surface of the earth. (“Statement of Rights”)
Dove was also the first person to measure the strength of an electrical current in a wire which he found by using a magnetic field. He was a well esteemed scientist and researcher whose work was respected and valued. (“Listening to the Binaural Beat – Trans4mind”)
Dove did little more than prove the phenomena occurred. It was not until 134 years after his paper was published that scientist and researcher, Gerald Ostler, published an article in Scientific American magazine that provided fresh findings, backed up with laboratory research, which shows how these binaural beats could affect the brain, depending on the frequency. (“What Are Binaural Beats? How It Was Discovered? – Binaural …”)
Ostler recognized that these binaural beats were a tool cognitive and neurological researchers could utilize to learn how animals were able to use sounds to locate their prey in an environment where sounds can ricochet off trees or rocks before they get to their ears. He was also interested in how animals can be surrounded by sound everywhere but can focus on one sound and zero in on it. (“Statement of Rights”)
It is something mothers have done for centuries. Put a pile of babies in a room and mothers will happily chat and talk without needing to watch, but the moment one baby cries that mother can identify that cry as being her child, no matter the volume of the others around the baby. This is also known as the “cocktail party” effect as people also adopt it to differentiate sounds in crowded parties. (“What Are Binaural Beats? How It Was Discovered? – Binaural …”)
However, the human’s ability to differentiate sounds is nothing compared to many in the animal kingdom who can listen for both prey and predators, knowing the difference in the sounds they make. (“What Are Binaural Beats? How It Was Discovered? – Binaural …”)
Ostler also felt the binaural beats were a potentially useful tool when trying to diagnose different conditions. As well as the obvious advantage of helping determine hearing or auditory issues, Ostler felt it may also help to diagnose psychological conditions. (“What Are Binaural Beats? How It Was Discovered? – Binaural …”) “That is because binaural beats use different pathways in the brain compared to those used when hearing normal everyday sounds.” (“Statement of Rights”)
One of the differences Ostler noticed was that people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease were unable to perceive binaural beats. Treating Parkinson’s alleviated the issue with Ostler noticing the changes within a week of treatment in several patients. (“What Are Binaural Beats? How It Was Discovered? – Binaural …”)
Ostler also found there is a gender difference in being about to perceive binaural beats. Women find it easier to perceive them at two points in their menstrual cycle, first at the beginning of menstruation, and then again about fifteen days later (known to be the time of ovulation) From this Ostler theorizes binaural beat perception may be affected by estrogen levels.
“In the 1970’s people began to use the binaural beats of rhythms to help with a range of psychological struggles, including managing stress, reducing anxiety and helping with concentration.” (“What Are Binaural Beats? How It Was Discovered? – Binaural …”)
It has also since been used to reduce sleeping times, improving learning of added information, and helping to get into a meditative state. Studies have also shown that your brain can reorganize itself by listening to binaural beats, and it can help the left and right hemispheres come back into balance. (“Programming Your Mind With Binaural Beats – C.J. Hallock …”) This can have huge benefits for people who either struggle to produce creative concepts or conversely apply logic to situations (as these come from differing sides of the brain.) (“Statement of Rights”)
All of these have been studied and have found to have some to a lot of valid findings that are in favor with using them in these ways. (“Programming Your Mind With Binaural Beats – C.J. Hallock …”)
Best Wishes, Coyalita
Behavioral Health Rehab Specialist
See Tomorrow: “How do Binaural Beats Work?”
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