When you present one tone to one ear and a second to the other ear, your brain perceives an additional tone. This is the essence of binaural beats. The concept of two tones creating a third tone should ring familiar with audiologists. However, our clinical use typically is unilateral when assessing distortion product otoacoustic emissions. Binaural beats work a bit differently, as each ear is transmitting one frequency to the central auditory pathway. Proponents of binaural beats assert that the sound waves lock in and enhance certain brainwaves.
This enhancement of brainwaves has been studied to determine their effectiveness at reducing stress, anxiety, help in sleep, and increased focus (Brown, 2023). Though highly debated in terms of effectiveness, the concept is intriguing. A 2020 study showed that inclusion of binaural beats in addition to traditional therapy reduced trait anxiety significantly compared to therapy alone or medication (Yusim and Grigaitis, 2020).
However, the study was limited to a small sample size. Searching binaural beats on YouTube yields a number of different options to sample. There is little evidence that suggests listening to these sounds is harmful in any way (as long as the output doesn’t exceed safe listening levels!). So, if you are curious check out the link below to hear for yourself (YouTube, 2023).
Brown J. (2023) How sound wave therapy can help reduce anxiety. Health Digest. (accessed March, 14, 2023).
YouTube. (2023) PURE Schumann Resonance 7.83 hz for focus and brain synchronization. Jabberwocky Publishing LLC dba Alpha Pup Records. (accessed March 14, 2023).
Yusim A, Grigaitis J. (2020) Efficacy of binaural beat meditation technology for treating anxiety symptoms: A pilot study. J Nerv Ment Dis 208(2):155-160.
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