Audio therapy quite often uses various forms of beats or pulsing audio tones. There are several ways to create these tones. Two popular ways to produce the audio pulse are via Binaural Beats or Isochronic Tones. Let’s describe the differences between these tow.
Binaural Beats are a perceived audio beat or pulse, created due to the inability of the brain to correctly process the minimal frequency difference between two different sine or square waves in each ear. That’s a mouthful. But it is important to note that a key difference with Ishchronic Tones is that binaural beats have no breaks of silence. Each tone is continuously playing in each ear. Because the tones are playing, exclusively, in each ear and have a very small difference in frequency, the brain cannot properly mix the two signals and instead creates the perception that there is actually a beat playing. Additionally, the illusion of Binaural Beats is only created when listening to the tones with stereo headphones. When listening to them over speakers, the brain can properly mix the signals and thus no beat perception is realized.
Here is a view of a right and left ear stereo wave showing that there is no gaps in a Binaural Beats audio sample. The two individual channels have minimally different sine waves and this difference in frequency, and the fact that they are listened to over headphones, is what causes the brain to perceive a beating noise.
Isochronic Tones, on the other hand, are created by specifically interleaving gaps of audio and silence. By doing this, Isochronic Tone pulses can be experienced over speakers (single or multi-channel) and headphones. This is likely the primary reason why Isochronic Tones are a more popular way to explore the meditative effects of audio therapy with audio pulses. The gaps of silence are positioned at specific frequencies. Like the various frequencies of Binaural Beats, these frequencies often correspond to brainwave activity at various levels of engagement (sleep through focus, for example).
Here is a view of an Isochronic Tone wave. Notice the interleaving of silence throughout the sine wave.
Regardless of which audio pulse you prefer or use, there is really no clear indication that audio therapy can actually help synchronize the brainwaves. However there is no consensus otherwise. Substantial anecdotal evidence suggests that both Binaural Beats and Isochronic Tones can have a meditative effect and assist in relaxation when combined with relaxing background noise such as whitenoise or tranquil audio loops. Research also exists that correlates the use of Binaural Beats with increased relaxation and focus.
A great question that typically comes up regarding binaural beats, is does the type of headphone affect the effectiveness of therapeutic audio stimulation? The short answer is yes, but don’t bother going out and purchasing the most expensive pair of headphones.
Because binaural beats are a simple sine wave with very little (no) noise, any decent pair of headphones will probably do just as well as a $400 pair. As long as the pair of headphones can produce a clean sound that isn’t “tiny” on the higher or lower frequencies, you’re good.
The more important factor is comfort. Because binaural beats are typically used for sleep and relaxation purposes, it is important that the headphones are comfortable. A pair of studio headphones with quality padding would be great or if you’re using earbuds, something that won’t irritate your ears after prolonged use would be better. Usually the cheaper the headphone, the less comfortable.
Fortunately, comfortable and decent audio quality doesn’t necessarily mean expensive.
Sleep onset insomnia or difficulty falling asleep is a problem that afflicts almost 60% of adults (according to the National Sleep Foundation)! We lie in bed counting the minutes as they go by, our minds without a leash bringing thought after thought and concern of how another day of exhaustion lay ahead.
There are many strategies that can be used to help sleep. One popular drug free approach is to use music or audio stimulation. Often the right audio in the background can help relax the mind. Common background sounds (or soundscapes) include rain falling, waves hitting the shore, water running or other comforting sounds.
In addition to a background soundscape while falling asleep, binaural beats may significantly increase the therapeutic effects of audio stimulation for sleep.
Binaural Beats is an audio perception effect that occurs when two minimally differing audio frequencies are applied to each ear. The minimal difference in the two tones is perceived as a beating sound, referred to as a binaural beat frequency. It is purported that binaural beats stimulate the brain to operate into the same frequency.
When sleeping, our brains typically fall into a theta and then delta frequency, ultimately into a deep sleep. Using binaural Beats audio stimulation can assist the brain to get into the theta and delta frequencies.
Download the following free binaural Beats mp3 for assisting falling asleep. This free audio track is 15 minutes long. It starts in a relaxation alpha frequency and slowly falls through the theta range to delta. The soundscape also has a soothing background audio of water rippling.
Take advantage of this free binaural beats offer today and get yourself a good night’s sleep.
This is pretty cool. PlayNoise.com offers a free HTML5 online whitenoise generator. It looks like it uses OGG Vorbis or MP3 samples, unlike some other online whitenoise generators out there which generate the whitenoise pragmatically. Regardless, it’s a neat minimalist page with a very functional whitenoise generator on it. The HTML5 app also supports other noise variations such as pink noise and brown noise.
The difference between the three noise variations is minimal, but there is a noticeable difference. White noise is completely random signals, while both brown and pink noise use a mathematical formula. Wikipedia has a great explanation of the three noise variants here.
Beats Brainwave (available for iPhone and BlackBerry Playbook) is a binaural beats generator that also supports white, pink and brown noise for stimulating improved concentration. See more about binaural beats and white noise generation here. Alternatively, we also have an online binaural beats generator that also supports white noise, pink noise and brown noise.
New research that was highlighted at the 2012 American Adacemy of Ophthalmology suggested that “soothing sounds during cataract surgery reduces patient anxiety”. The study found that patients in one group who listened to a binaural beats audio mix before, during and after cataract surgery had less anxiety and a slower heart rate, compared with the control group patients who did not receive the binaural beats stimulus. Systolic blood pressure was also shown to be significantly reduced in patients that were listening to the soothing audio.
In my own experience, listening to binaural beats audio stimulus, with a soothing background track can definitely help reduce anxiety. I can see how anxiety reduction can be beneficial for patients undergoing something like cataract surgery where only local anesthetic is used.
More information on the study can be found on the American Academy of Ophthalmology website, here: http://www.aao.org/newsroom/release/20121112b.cfm
Beats Brainwave binaural beats app for iPhone is now available for FREE!
This is the full feature app, with in-app advertising. It includes all settings – sleep, relaxation, concentration and meditation. Plus the custom binaural beats section where you can create your own binaural beats with any frequencies.
Of course, the paid version is also available at an incredibly low price.
A study ouf of Montreal, showed that listening to binaural beats in the delta/theta range may be beneficial in reducing anxiety.
Participants in the study were asked to listen to the binaural beats 5 times per week over the course of 4 weeks. The participants were also asked to record their levels of anxiety in a journal before and after the binaural beats sessions.
The study found that listening the binaural beats resulted in significant reduction in the reported anxiety levels for those participants who consistently listened to the tapes over the period.
For more information about the study, see the abstract here.
And download some free binaural beats mp3’s to help you achieve your own desired state of mind.
I came across this press release the other day. It describes how binaural beats are used to enhance peak performance training of Olympic athletes. The latest training methodology used by Dr. Rayma Ditson-Sommer, at the Arizona Training Center for sports focus training is called the VIT for Sports System which combines chromotherapy and binaural beat audio.
Here’s a track from the free Binaural Beats album that focuses on frequencies to help assist in meditation. I actually use the same binaural beats meditation program on a regular basis (or at least a variation of it) with the Beats Brainwaves app for the BlackBerry PlayBook and iPhone.