1. What is audio brainwave entrainment?
2. A Brief History
3. Brainwaves and their associations
4. Binaural beats and isochronic tones
5. How does brainwave stimulation work and what are its applications?
6. Whole brain synchrony
7. The benefits of brainwave stimulation
8. Contraindications
1. What is audio brainwave entrainment?
Audio brainwave entrainment is a neural process by which the electrical activity in the brain is stimulated using tones and beats played at certain frequencies.
Brainwave stimulation is also known as brainwave entrainment.
2. A Brief History
Shortly after the discovery of the alpha brainwave in 1929 by Hans Burger, research found that flickering lights could affect brainwaves. This was called photic (light) stimulation.
Within the next 20 years many experiments were carried out in this field and audio brainwave stimulation was also discovered.
By the 1960's, these brainwave stimulation techniques were being used for practical purposes, such as controlling pain relief during medical and dental procedures with patients needing less anaesthesia and suffering far fewer side effects.
In 1973 Dr. Gerald Oster discovered what he called binaural and monaural beats, a combination of two pure tones resulting in rhythmic beats. The monaural beats, in particular, produced very strong cortical responses.
In the 1980's worldwide research was taking place into the release of hormones and chemicals such as serotonin and HGH (Human Growth Hormone) being triggered by brainwave stimulation, bringing about headache relief and general relaxation, as well as the phenomenon of brain synchronisation, where both hemispheres of the brain start working together. The conclusions were that this 'hemispheric coherence' could help improve the 'intellectual functioning of the brain'.
Around this time, the use and value of isochronic tones was also being researched.
In the past couple of decades, more and more important work has been and is continuing to be done in the field of brainwave stimulation technology. It is being used in modern clinical EEG units, by doctors and psychologists, teachers and coaches. It has been described as the forging of science, physics and biophysics with psychiatry, and can be called neuroscience.
Research continues to be carried out in the big universities like MIT, Stanford and others around the globe, constantly discovering more about the workings of the brain and the significant role brainwave stimulation can play in its development and rehabilitation.
Important experiments have taken place in Canada using the technique on children with
ADD with amazing results (A lot of this can be viewed on YouTube).
Almost 100 years since its initial discovery, brainwave stimulation is finally making its way into the mainstream, and being considered as a serious alternative to conventional treatments.
3. Brainwaves and their associations
Brainwaves are the electro-chemical impulses emitted by the brain during electrical activity. These can be registered on an electroencephalogram.
These brainwaves are known as:
BETA: Emitted when we are consciously alert, or we feel agitated, tense, afraid, with frequencies ranging from 13 to 60 pulses per second in the Hertz scale. Lacking sufficient beta activity can cause mental or emotional disorders such as depression, ADD and insomnia. Stimulating beta activity can improve emotional stability, energy levels, attentiveness and concentration.
ALPHA: When we are in a state of physical and mental relaxation, although aware of what is happening around us, its frequencies range from around 7 to 13 pulses per second. When you close your eyes your brain automatically starts producing more alpha waves. Alpha is usually the goal of experienced meditators, but can be very easily achieved using brainwave entrainment.
THETA: More or less 4 to 7 pulses per second. It is a state of somnolence with reduced consciousness. Theta can also be used for hypnosis, accelerated learning and self-programming using pre-recorded suggestions.
DELTA: When there is unconsciousness, deep, dreamless sleep or catalepsy, emitting between 0.1 and 4 pulses per second. Delta is the slowest band of brainwaves. When your dominant brainwave is delta, your body is healing itself and "resetting" its internal clocks.
Brainwave stimulation makes use of these different frequencies to achieve the required goals.
4. Binaural beats and isochronic tones
The most commonly used pulses in brainwave stimulation are binaural beats and isochronic tones. The main disadvantage of binaural beats is that it requires the use of headphones, as it works by
exposing the brain to sounds at slightly different frequencies in each ear. The brain is stimulated
by trying to work out the difference between the two.
Isochronic tones are now believed to be far more powerful for the purposes of entrainment,
offering a deeper, more spaced-out pulse which has a greater effect on the brain. These tones can be listened to through headphones or speakers, providing the volume is sufficiently high so that the pulses are detected by the listeners.
5. How does brainwave stimulation work and what are its applications?
When the brain is exposed to regular visual and/or auditory pulses, after just a few minutes (6-8) it starts to simulate those patterns.
The brainwave patterns of people suffering from disorders such as depression, headache/migraine, anxiety, chronic pain, PMS and insomnia have been studied and patterns have emerged that can be manipulated and altered with this technology to relieve the conditions and in many cases prevent them from recurring, or dramatically lessen their effects.
The same has been found for dependency issues, concentration problems (ADD), hypertension and much more.
The possible number of applications for this technology is unlimited. Far from simply being a tool to help people who are unwell, brainwave stimulation can also greatly enhance the lives of the fit and healthy.
Brainwave stimulation can enhance the immune system, improve creativity and focus, give a natural energy boost and even help people effortlessly achieve deep meditative states, reaping all the benefits that true meditation brings.
Here are a few examples of where this technology is being used:
  • Pre-surgery to help patients relax, reduce the use of anesthetics and excess bleeding.
  • Post-surgery to speed up recovery.
  • By athletes to train their minds and prepare for competition.
  • By traders using it to increase their trading performance and confidence.
  • Eastern medicine practitioners to help clients relax.
  • By teachers to help students learn, focus and reduce ADD.
  • In professional research centres studying its applications with brain trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.
6. Whole brain synchrony
A very positive side effect of brainwave entrainment is that it causes brain synchronisation. When both sides of the brain are working simultaneously, intelligence, concentration, logic, creativity, learning, intuition etc are positively affected. Whole brain synchrony is often seen as a sign of genius with great thinkers and artists such as Einstein, Picasso and Lewis Carol sharing this gift.
Whole brain synchrony encourages the formation of new neural pathways leading to positive changes in mental and emotional health.
7. The benefits of brainwave stimulation
This technology has many benefits over traditional forms of medication/therapy: It is painless, safe and easy to use and relatively inexpensive
There are no negative side effects.
Most importantly, the regular use of brainwave stimulation over time can actually make positive permanent changes to brainwave patterns, creating lasting, long term benefits for the user.
8. Contraindications
Brainwave stimulation is not recommended during pregnancy or for people fitted with a pacemaker. While there is no evidence that audio brainwave entrainment can trigger a seizure, if you have epilepsy or are prone to seizures you may wish to consult your doctor before listening to these tracks.