Do Binaural Beats Work?

Binaural beats have a long history, but scientists are just beginning to discover the many layers of health benefits they can have for humans. When these layers of blended frequencies are introduced to the human brain, the parts of the brain are brought into sync and intense levels of concentration, relaxation, performance, and a vast range of mental and physical benefits are achieved with no effort at all.

Binaural beats were discovered in 1839 by a physicist named Heinrich Wilhelm Dove. The definition of the term binaural is ‘to hear with two ears’. Dove found that when he separated signals from two different frequencies, and presented one to each ear, the human brain will pick up the variation between the two frequencies and attempt to reconcile the differences.

As the frequencies mesh in and out of phase, the brain creates a third signal, a binaural beat, and this is the exact difference between the two frequencies. Binaural hearing is the force behind sonar, the way bats orient themselves and locate their surroundings in the dark.

Academic Proof

Over the next century and a half, scientists continued to study binaural hearing and its causes and effects. Although well-known scientists regularly delved into the subject, the subject remained somewhat on the fringe of research.

The development that led to today’s use was made in the 1970s. In New York City, a biophysicist named Gerald Oster published research that brought the possibilities of binaural beats to the mainstream. He found that the brain processes these beats in a way that causes them to produce evoked potentials inside the brain’s auditory cortex.
Robert Monroe picked up the research and investigated the effects of binaural beats on consciousness. After measuring the brainwave patterns of patients, he reached the conclusion that binaural beats influence brainwave frequencies. The frequencies changed as the tone of the beats changed.
Tests involving the effects on sleep were first conducted by Dr. Arthur Hastings. Dr. Hastings wrote of how binaural beats slow the brainwaves down in phases to the frequencies of brainwaves during sleep and during deep sleep.
Studies have been taken up repeatedly in recent years and consistently show the direct effects of binaural beats on the human brain. The next logical step was to find the application of these effects, to find out how they can be used for health benefits in humans.
The findings so far are dramatic. One study in Physiology and Behavior found binaural beats to heighten focus, increase performance, and even brighten the mood. Authors of this study concluded by suggesting applications for binaural beats to be used to enhance performance and focus attention.
At lower frequencies, binaural beats have been found to increase learning abilities. In the Alpha state of brainwave frequencies, one of the lower states akin to frequencies found in sleep, students were found to learn and retain from five times to as high as thirty times as much information as students in a normal state, and with greater retention and less study time. The effects on the brain allow the brain to process information as a greater depth than normal. In studies taken in classroom settings, attention is more focused and the mind is found to be more receptive to information.
Exercising the brain provides a great deal of mental, physical, and emotional health benefits, and ones that are particularly displayed later in life. Researchers have observed binaural beats to be a successful source of exercise for the brain, and to help provide top performance, specifically in the long term. This, more than a wide array of other methods, can stave off the mental effects of aging, including deterioration of the aging brain.
There is a deep effect had by these beats. The brain is affected in a passive state, the same way someone might whisper into a sleeping person’s ear to influence their thoughts. The brain becomes more receptive, more retentive, more flexible, and more productive in these states.
Binaural beats even help restore health. The two lowest frequencies of brain waves induced by binaural beats have been determined to assist in recovery from addiction. A study at the University of Southern Colorado brought a group of alcoholics into these low frequencies, and they showed a significantly quicker recovery rate than the control group. They were also significantly less likely to relapse in follow ups for years after the study. The benefits of binaural beats appear to go beyond solely mental ones.

Studies have shown effects on the production of human growth hormone, an essential hormone that is found lacking in those who age prematurely or have health concerns that are typically related to age.A study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine whether mildly anxious people would be helped by listening to binaural beats daily for one month. The results were stark. The patients reported a significant reduction in anxiety and expressed a clear preference for the recording with the most pronounced binaural beats.

The benefits that binaural beats can have may be limitless. They have been used as treatment for a huge range of ailments and even simply as meditative ways to reduce stress and anxiety. One study, published in Anaesthesia, showed the possibilities of easing the common pre-operative anxiety most adult patients experience. A range of fears and concerns factor in to form these anxieties. From losing control, and fears of death to the simple anxieties of being in unfamiliar environments, these stresses can actually pose physical health risks, such as gastric stasis.

The test was designed to specifically focus on surgeries where patients had to quickly be ready to leave the hospital and be on their own on the same day they had surgery. Goals for these types of surgeries are more heavily focused on reducing pre-operative anxiety and preparing patients to return to their normal lives within a short time after the surgery, a matter of hours. The standard method of treatment, medicating the patient, has consistently been shown to fail to meet these goals.

The study concluded a significant impact of binaural beats on anxiety levels, enough to recommend having patients listen to them for an hour before being placed under anesthesia.
When the entire brain is trained to function together at levels higher than previously reached, the effects are seen across the entire range of possible benefits. The brain is restructured for higher performance and deeper thinking. New pathways are created. When each side of a set of headphones are used to bring out the full effect of the separation of audio frequencies, the human brain is unlocked to a new level of potential, a level that is still being discovered and understood.