Alpha: Alpha brainwave patterns are associated with a state of wakeful relaxation. Slower and lower in frequency (between 9-14 hertz), alpha waves are dominant when we’re calm and relaxed, but still alert. Alpha waves are associated with states of meditation (your yoga class probably puts you in an alpha state), and also with our ability to be creative.
We can’t always control sources of stress in our lives, but we change how we react to them. The good news is this: The human body is actually designed to experience and handle stress, which is exactly why our bodies react to it so strongly. With some practice, we have the power to learn to use certain elements of stress to our advantage (for example, the fact that stress keeps us more alert and attentive), while better controlling other negative reactions (like digestion problems or giving in to cravings for unhealthy foods).
The brain has two hemispheres that operate somewhat independently from one another. The two hemispheric structures of the brain are connected by a large nerve, called the corpus callosum, which sends information back and forth between the two sides of the brain. In most people, the left hemisphere controls language, logical thinking, and analytic processes and the right side contains the centers for emotion, intuition, and non-linear creative thinking.
Isochronic tones are basically just a single tone with the volume being turned on and off at regular intervals. When you apply the same effects to music or a noise, it’s usually referred to as amplitude entrainment effects (in Mind Workstation anyway). When you apply the on/off effect to music or noise it’s usually done by targeting a specific frequency range in the sound and only turning that part on/off, leaving the rest of the music/noise untouched. What that does is allow parts of the music/noise to play without being distorted/interrupted, making it sound more pleasant to listen to. It produces a kind of fluttering sound as I like to call it and you can adjust the level of intensity.
Generally speaking, the brain will usually entrain to the strongest stimulus which would be isochronic tones over binaural beats. So when you see people add binaural beats at a different frequency to the isochronic tones, that would not produce additional brainwave entrainment at another frequency. If they are both at the same frequency I haven’t seen any research to indicate whether that would be beneficial or not, but my belief is that it would weaken the potential for entrainment. When you look at the waveform of an isochronic tone there is a distinct empty space between each beat, making it very pronounced and effective. When you add binaural beats at the same frequency it looks like this: http://www.mindamend.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/isochronic-tones-binaural-beats-combined-waveform.jpg. The depth of the waveform is now half as deep and less effective. This is before the binaural beats are formed inside your head, where the waveform is hard to determine and measure. From listening to that type of combination the beats sound much less pronounced, which has to make them much less effective in terms of a brainwave entrainment stimulus, compared to isochronic tones on their own.
It is common for people to try entrainment thinking it is going to produce meditation just because they listened to a track. Often they come away disappointed, feeling that nothing special happened. They decide entrainment isn’t what they were led to believe it was. Or they decide meditation is vastly overrated and for them at least, ineffectual. Their disappointment has more to do with not understanding the principles listed thus far than it does with the effectiveness of meditation and brainwave entrainment.
Sound and light are the most popular methods to entrain the mind, yet there are a few other options in our toolbox. Using vibrational energy from sources such as magnets and electricity has been proven to help overcome addictions, depression, and even treat neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s. In this section, we cover these alternative forms of brainwave entrainment.
When we first use brainwave entrainment, we may not have anything specific in mind that will happen, but we hold a general expectation that “something” should happen. As we begin the process of entrainment we are on high alert looking for any little indication that something is happening. Pretty soon we identify some feeling or twitch or unusual perception. The moment we focus on whatever it is, the act of focusing on it magnifies the thing. Since we were already viewing the situation with an expectation that it was the entrainment that was going to produce some sort of result, we automatically associate whatever our phenomenon is with entrainment.
Changes in neural oscillations, demonstrable through electroencephalogram (EEG) measurements, are precipitated by listening to music, which can modulate autonomic arousal ergotropically and trophotropically, increasing and decreasing arousal respectively. Musical auditory stimulation has also been demonstrated to improve immune function, facilitate relaxation, improve mood, and contribute to the alleviation of stress. These findings have contributed to the development of neurologic music therapy, which uses music and song as an active and receptive intervention, to contribute to the treatment and management of disorders characterized by impairment to parts of the brain and central nervous system, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, cerebral palsy, Alzheimer's disease, and autism.