Binaural beats, otherwise known as binaural tones are processing artifacts which effects the perception of apparent sounds in the brain without the necessary presence of pysical presence of stimuli. This was long discovered by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove in 1839 .
As in common equation where in the presence of 2 elements, it naturally combines to produce the median but still allows you to get the difference of both, two sounds that are similar even if slightly different in frequency, will produce two new frequencies when they beat collectively. These would be the average, as well as the difference of both sounds. Take a 400 Hz tone and a 410 Hz tone. Together, they will give a 405 Hz tone beating at 10 times per second.
The same process goes inside the brain. It produces low frequency pulsations from the loudness of the sum of two tones play independently at different frequencies, say for example what happens when one puts on stereo headphones. What he hears on the left ear differs from what is fed into the right ear. The perceived tone would sound unified. Such is the working of the human brain. There are conditions, however, for this harmonious mix to be heard, the tones must not be higher than 1,000 to 1,500 hertz. There should also be a small difference between the two frequencies (around 30 Hz or below). Higher differences would result to the independent hearing of each tone, and there would be no perception of tonal harmony.
This ability of the brain to arrange sounds or what we technically call the sensation of binaural beats supposed to start in the superior olivary nucleus, which is a component of the brain stem. They appear to be related to the brain’s ability to locate the sources of sounds in three dimensions.
Two fields of study are involved in the subject of binaural beats and the effects they have on the human body and psyche. One group with an interest in the subject are the neurophysiologists who study and closely monitor the sense of hearing; understandably as sound passess through the ears before being processed by the brain. The others who are also involved in this area are protoscientists. The latter believe that binaural beats can be used positively to induce relaxation, as well as physical, psychological, and emotional wellbeing by influencing the brain in very subtle ways. Scientifically this is known as the entrainment of brainwaves through the entrainment of brainwaves.
After their discovery by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove in 1839, research about binaural beats continued but did not become as celebrated until 134 years later when Gerald Oster published an article in Scientific America in 1973 entitled “Auditory Beats in the Brain”. Without claiming new scientific data on the topic, Oster managed to gain attention as he was able to collate and make a lot of sense from the past and independent researches and presented a lot of possibilities as far as the relevance binaural beats was concerned.
Take scientific research for example. Oster presented binaural beats as very effective tool in cognitive and neurological research. Simply put, binaural beats cold help find out how animals could locate the origin of the sounds they hear in their actual 3-D environment where a lot of stimuli are at work. Another area of use is to determine what makes animals capable of zeroing in on a specific sound amid a cacophony of sounds, otherwise known as the cocktail party effect.
Another relevance which Oster brought to light was the use of binaural beats in medical science. He revealed that it was a powerful diagnostic tool, not only for examining and evaluating auditory irregularities, but more importantly for neurological conditions (from the fact that binaural beats involved more than the sense and organ of hearing, but more sensitively a function and section of the human brain). One of his findings was, the reason why a certain number of individuals he studied could not perceive binaural beats was they suffered Parkinsons disease. He had a case where he closely monitored the subject through a rigid week-long treatment of the ailment; at the beginning the patient was incapable of perceiving binaural beats, but after a week’s, the patient regained perception of binaural beats again.
Part of Osters report (this one corroborated an existing study) that gender had an effect in the difference of the perception of beats. He stated that women apparently experienced two separate peaks in perceiving binaural beats that seemed to coincide with certain points in the menstrual cycle (the first during the start of the menses, and the other approximately 15 days later). This inspired Oster to look into the possibiltiy of applying binaural beats in the measurement of relative levels of estrogen
Going into what was earlier mentioned about the process of entrainment of brainwaves, some scientists and medical practitioners believe that binaural beats can influence other functions outside of the sense of hearing. This is what they call frequency following response which states that the predominant brain waves tend to move towards a stimulus whose frequency falls within that of brain’s range. Correspondingly, brain waves can be induced to rise for more alertness, or lowered to relax it through the use of sounds, which in most cases refers to music.
There are other areas where binaural beats can be utilized. There are claims that with the introduction of specific frequencies certain glands can be stimulated to produce needed hormones. This remains unfounded as there isn’t enough scientific basis or findings to support such claims expecially in the area of chakras. Moreover, persons posses varying frequencies; no particular standards could be set in this respect.
Reduction of learning time and sleeping needs are also areas where binaural beats are said to be useful. Here we talk about theta waves which are thought to improve learning; adults can benefit from more theta waves which are very strong in children. Children sleep longer from this supply of theta waves; it is said that with more theta waves, adults can have shorter but more restful sleep and can also increase their learning ability. This is the basis for such exercises as meditation and even the more controversial and highly debated (whether or not they indeed exist) states of out-of-body experiences, astral projection, telepathy and psychokinesis.
Addictions are also said to have been treated successfully using binaural beats in certain experiments. In others, they have also been reported to help in the recovery of repressed memories, but arguments have it that this could also lead to false memories.