Whenever we become very relaxed and the usual chatter of the mind slows down a little bit, if we remain aware and do not slip into sleep or unconsciousness, we begin to perceive things that we had not noticed before. This is slightly different than the issue of “expectations” discussed previously, although a relationship to them can develop which will be discussed below. These have to do with the fact that in our typical state of consciousness our mind is racing so fast and so loud, and our body is so engaged with activity and physical tension, that we are unaware of some subtle perceptions that are there all the while, but which get buried beneath all the physical and mental noise.
There's no doubt that brainwave entrainment audio is a great technology for anyone who is interested in encouraging altered states of consciousness and it certainly can help people to reach deeper states of relaxation than they might normally have access to. I myself will often listen to brainwave entrainment music in order to enhance my practice of meditation. But let’s keep a balanced perspective, put all the marketing hype to one side for a moment and acknowledge that there is no brainwave entrainment technology in this world that can make you meditate like a Zen monk “at the touch of a button”, despite what some might like you to believe. The mind is NOT a machine. It moves through various states of consciousness in an organic way and at a natural pace. We certainly can guide and accelerate that process with the use of brainwave entrainment audio, but we cannot control it with the same sort of specificity and immediacy as you might control the speed of the car you drive.
Stress is a significant individual and public health problem that is associated with numerous physical and mental health concerns. It is estimated that between 75% and 90% of primary care physician visits are caused by stress-related illnesses (2). Cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety, immune system suppression, headaches, back and neck pain, and sleep problems are some of the health problems associated with stress (4,8). These conditions are some of the most burdensome health problems in the United States based on health care costs, the number of people affected, and the impact on individual lives. Extreme levels of stress were reported by 22% of respondents from the 2011 Stress in America™ survey, and 39% reported that their level of stress had increased during the past year (3). More than 80% of the survey respondents at the WorldatWork Conference in 2012 reported that stress moderately or significantly contributed to their health care costs (6).
Go behind the scenes of brainwave entrainment technology creation with Joseph Kao, developer of the extraordinary meditation tool Journey to the Center of the Self. Here, in an interview with John Dupuy, CEO of iAwake Technologies, Joe describes the amazing complexity of the brainwave entraining soundscape he created to both accompany his deeply inductive, 30-minute, guided meditation on the first track of Journey, and also stand alone as a music-only track that holds you in a profoundly relaxed, still, yet clear place on the theta/delta border. To find out all that went into the making of the inductive guided meditation on the first track of Journey, see A Guide to Transpersonal Meditation: Journey to the Center of the Self, part I of this interview.
^ Bittman, B. B., Snyder, C., Bruhn, K. T., Liebfreid, F., Stevens, C. K., Westengard, J., and Umbach, P. O., Recreational music-making: An integrative group intervention for reducing burnout and improving mood states in first year associate degree nursing students: Insights and economic impact" International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, Vol. 1, Article 12, 2004.
That is generally where the science ends and the pseudoscience begins. A number of companies and individuals have then extrapolated from the phenomenon of entrainment to claim that altering the brain waves changes the actual functioning of the brain. There is no theoretical or empirical basis for this, however. Entrainment is a temporary effect on the synchronization of neuronal firing – it does not improve or increase brain functioning, it does not change the hardwiring, nor does it cure any neurological disorder. There is no compelling evidence for any effect beyond the period of entrainment itself.
Gamma waves are the fastest of the brainwave frequencies (high frequency band of brainwave activity) which signifies the highest state of focus possible. They are associated with peak concentration and the brain’s optimal frequency for cognitive functioning – the 40 Hz frequency corresponds to a Schumann resonance band and many scientists, including Nobel Laureate Sir Francis Crick believe that it may be the key to the act of cognition. The Gamma state relates to simultaneous processing of information from different brain areas; information passes very rapidly.
Binaural beats change the frequency of your brainwaves, giving you control over which category you experience at any given moment. And because you’re in the driver’s seat — and producing specific frequencies to induce a specific state of mind — you can use binaural beats to boost performance, increase focus, get better sleep… the possibilities are endless. “There’s an infinite number of variations on how you could use this kind of technology,” says Bill Harris, Director of Centerpointe Research Institute and creator of auditory brainwave training program Holosync.
... These factors may be the specific frequency of BB; the targeted population-because it is known that older people have different quality of brainwave activity than, e.g., youngsters (Bazanova & Aftanas, 2008;Clark et al., 2004), and the tests used to detect the possible changes in working memory capacity. Based on the research showing a positive impact of alpha-range BB on cognitive functioning, specifically attention, auditory sequential memory, working memory, working memory storage, reasoning ability, cognitive processing and hemispheric synchronization, (Carter & Russell, 1993;Cruceanu & Rotarescu, 2013;Foster, 1990;Kennerly, 1994;McMurray, 2006) as well as on the wealth of research documenting the important role of alpha brain wave activity on vigilance, in-hibitory processes, attention, filtering out irrelevant information working memory, the visuo-spatial component of working memory, perceptual abilities and information processing speed (Braboszcz & Delorme, 2011;Clark et al., 2004;Engle et al., 1999a;Freunberger et al., 2011;Klimesch et al., 2007;Lachat et al., 2012;Oprisan, 2004;Palva & Palva, 2007;Rihs et al., 2007;Sauseng et al., 2009;Tuladhar et al., 2007;VanRullen & Koch, 2003), we believe that BB of a frequency that corresponds to the alpha range of brain activity has a temporary effect on working memory capacity. In our study, subjects were exposed to 9.55 Hz BB stimulation while we measured their working memory capacity through the Automated Operation Span Task (AOSPAN). ...
Neural oscillations are rhythmic or repetitive electrochemical activity in the brain and central nervous system. Such oscillations can be characterized by their frequency, amplitude and phase. Neural tissue can generate oscillatory activity driven by mechanisms within individual neurons, as well as by interactions between them. They may also adjust frequency to synchronize with the periodic vibration of external acoustic or visual stimuli.