Today we're going to put on our headphones, kick back in the beanbag, and get mellow to the soothing sounds of the latest digital drug: binaural beats. These computer generated sound files are said to massage your brain and produce all sorts of effects, everything from psychedelic experiences to behavior modification. Let's point our skeptical eye at the science of binaural beats, and especially at some of the claims made for them.
...  While entrainment by binaural auditory beats in the alpha frequency has also been shown to enhance creativity, cognition, memory, and an improvement in intelligence tests and achievement tests in learning disabled boys.  The gamma-band activity has been shown to involve in a variety of functions such as attention, memory, and consciousness. Current literature suggests that entrainment by gamma beats promotes cognitive flexibility, modulates visual attention, and enhances creativity. ...
From a strictly physical/emotional viewpoint, the benefits of meditation include (but are not limited to) such things as greater resistance to stress; less physical illness and improved resilience when illness does occur; better quality of sleep and increased recovery during sleep; a generally magnified sense of well-being; a sharper, clearer mind; increased capacity for learning; improved functioning in daily life; more harmonious relationships; greater control over emotional states, and more.
You’ve heard me talk before about how sound can make a difference to sleep. Patients often tell me that they fall asleep to relaxing music, they seem to find it really helps them let go of active thoughts and quiet their mind—which, like yours probably does, tends to race from one thing to the next all day long (aka I can’t turn off my brain syndrome).
The exact physiological mechanisms to explain how exercise improves stress have not been delineated. Human and animal research indicates that being physically active improves the way the body handles stress because of changes in the hormone responses, and that exercise affects neurotransmitters in the brain such as dopamine and serotonin that affect mood and behaviors (9,11). In addition to the possible physiological mechanisms, there also is the possibility that exercise serves as a time-out or break from one’s stressors. A study that tested the time-out hypothesis used a protocol that had participants exercise but did not allow a break from stress during the exercise session (5). Participants were college-aged women who reported that studying was their biggest stressor. Self-report of stress and anxiety symptoms was assessed with a standard questionnaire before and after four conditions over 4 days. The conditions were quiet rest, study, exercise, and studying while exercising. These conditions were counterbalanced across participants, and each condition was 40 minutes in duration. The “exercise only” condition had the greatest calming effect (5). When participants were not given a break from their stressor in the “studying while exercising” condition, exercise did not have the same calming effect.
It cannot be any wonder then that we are almost desperate to find some sign, some indication that meditation and brainwave entrainment is having tangible, definable effects. We seize on these odd little experiences like ‘flushing of the face’ or ‘seeing spirals of color’ when our eyes are closed, hoping these are signs suggesting the elusive relief we’ve been after is finally within our grasp. We ask others to validate our experiences so that we can reassure ourselves we’re on the right track at last.
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.
This blog was created from an interview with Joseph Kao, creator of iAwake’s Journey to the Center of the Self, and iAwake’s CEO John Dupuy, by Heidi Mitchell, who has been working with John for 11 years as assistant and editor. John introduced her to Integral theory and practice and brainwave entrainment enhanced meditation in 2007. Heidi is also a freelance editor of nonfiction books, blogs, and web sites. She can be reached at www.heidimitchelleditor.com.
There isn’t really a one-size-fits-all track or frequency range which is right for all kids while doing homework. So that does make it difficult to recommend one thing in particular, and why I have a number of tracks for studying and focus. If they have already learnt and understood the information, but are just trying to commit it to memory for a test, then I would recommend an alpha track, like the Memorization Study Aid product I have with the 10.4Hz frequency you referred to. If they are still trying to fully understand what is being taught in a workbook, then I would recommend a track that is mainly beta frequencies, like my Study Focus tracks. In the middle, I have a number of tracks which use a combination of beta and alpha wave frequencies, like Study Booster, Study Enhancer and Cognition Enhancer. The last 3 use similar frequencies but deliver the tones and brainwave entrainment effects in different ways. As we are all wired a little differently it does sometimes take a bit of trial and error, to see what method or frequency range works best for the individual. These types of tracks are made for a general audience. In an ideal world, you would hook up to an EEG and see in real time exactly what a person responds to best, depending on the goal and current state of mind.
Both brainwave entrainment and neurofeedback deal with brainwaves, but the similarity stops there. Entrainment pushes your whole brain into a pre-determined state, while neurofeedback teaches you how to move specific parts of your brain on your own. It is the differeence between forcing the brain into a given position, and skills building so you can move it there yourself.