Infra-Low brainwaves (also known as Slow Cortical Potentials), are thought to be the basic cortical rythms that underlie our higher brain functions. Very little is known about infra-low brainwaves. Their slow nature make them difficult to detect and accurately measure, so few studies have been done. They appear to take a major role in brain timing and network function.
In 1984 medical researcher Dr. Gene W. Brockopp published a paper making several conclusions of audio and visual entrainment (AVE). Such conclusions were that hemispheric synchronization caused by AVE is related to increased intellectual functioning, practiced use of AVE overtime leads to a cumulative effect, and AVE may result in the recovery of early childhood experiences.
Anyone who has sought out different methods for enhancing cognitive ability will probably have come across a technique known as Brainwave Entrainment. However, it is a fairly niche area of brain training, meaning that this form of stimulation is often overlooked in favour of more mainstream methods. The following outlines what Brainwave Entrainment actually is, how it is used, and some of the benefits attributed to it.
Regarding split hemisphere isochronic tones. Think of this as two separate isochronic tones tracks playing independently of each other, one playing in one ear and the other one in the opposite ear. Better still, imagine someone playing and recording a drum beat at a rate of 5 taps per second (5Hz – 5 cycles per second). Then a separate recording of a drum beat is made at a rate of 10 taps per second (10 Hz). You then make an audio track where the left ear/channel hears the 5 drum beats recording and the right ear/channel hears the 10 beat recording. With headphones on, each ear can only hear each respective drum beat and not the other. So you are hearing two different beat recordings at the same time, but it’s different in each ear. A split hemisphere isochronic tones track works just the same. You hear two beats at the same time, not two tones as with binaural beats that create a single beat, but two different speeds of beats in each ear. This is what enables you to stimulate and influence each side of the brain with a different frequency of beat. Binaural beats can only stimulate and influence a whole brain effect using a single beat.
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When we are mentally active various groups of neurons will be firing and the EEG will look like a jumble of different waves at different frequencies. When we are in a relaxed state, however, our brains settle into a steady rhythm – when fully awake this is the alpha rhythm, which as a frequency of 8-12 hz and other recognizable features. When drowsy our brainwaves slow to the theta range, 6-7hz, and when in deep sleep into the delta range, 4-5hz.
When you listen to binaural beats/tones, you are actually listening to two slightly different pitched frequencies. Each frequency goes to each of your ears independently. When this happens your brain responds by creating a third tone, making up the difference between the two frequencies. This shift in frequency then shifts your brain’s consciousness and changes your state.
The reason this rule of thumb is so useful is because there is a huge market for simple answers. A genuine elegant solution (one that accomplishes more with less) is highly valuable in the marketplace. We are used to technology delivering new easy solutions to previously difficult tasks. While most improvements are incremental, there are occasional breakthroughs that transform our lives.
“The great neuroscientist W. Gray Walter carried out a series of experiments in the late forties and fifties in which he used an electronic stroboscopic device in combination with EEG equipment to send rhythmic light flashes into the eyes of the subjects at frequencies ranging from ten to twenty five flashes per second. He was startled to find that the flickering seemed to alter the brain-wave activity of the whole cortex instead of just the areas associated with vision. Wrote Walter, “The rhythmic series of flashes appear to be breaking down some of the physiologic barriers between different regions of the brain. This means the stimulus of flicker received by the visual projection area of the cortex was breaking bounds— its ripples were overflowing into other areas.”
Hey, even before we spoke about creating Journey, I was thinking about how people across the world do their spiritual practices and the commonalities between them all. I was thinking, there is the path of stillness—which links right back to what we were talking about getting to a state of deep, profound relaxation and bringing clarity into stillness. Then there’s the path of rhythm, of rocking, of dancing. But there’s always a rhythm to it—even in the movements of Tai Chi, there’s a smoothness, a smooth rhythm. What it never is, is arrhythmic—those are the movements of a more anxious, frightened animal kind of thing.
Unlike many traditional therapies for dealing with stress, anxiety, depression or cognitive impairment, entrainment does not require a focused effort from the person having the therapy, as the brain instinctively follows the frequency. This makes it a much more effective therapy for managing some of these challenging conditions, by automatically inducing a sense of relaxation and a reduction in negative physical and emotional patterns.
For our ancestors, stress was a survival skill during brief, life threatening situations. Once the danger passed, their stress levels lowered. However, in today’s world, we are constantly bombarded by stressors, such as work deadlines, traffic, and family obligations. We rarely get a break long enough to relax and relieve the stress. The over-activation of our stress hormones have been linked to high blood pressure, heart attacks, lower immunity, depression, anxiety, and more.
Some people are more resistant to brainwave entrainment than others and they may need many more sessions for the tones to start taking effect. Experts recommend that you listen to your brainwave entrainment music regularly because the positive impact is cumulative and builds as you listen to it day after day. Once you start feeling the effects, you will want to continue the sessions.
When you hit a tuning fork, tuned to a particular sound frequency such as the note B, and hold it close to the strings of a guitar, you will notice that the B string on the guitar will vibrate because it has entrained on to the same frequency of the tuning fork. Interesting enough, the other strings will not vibrate. Only the one with the same tuning as the tuning fork.
We are all unique and herbs can work differently for different people. The usage instructions on the label are written to be applicable to a general population. However, that doesn't mean they are optimum for you and the discomforts you are experiencing (small vs. large body types for example). "As needed" means you should take the amount listed at a needed frequency until you feel the desired effect (paying attention to any maximum or frequency limitations listed).
While binaural beats are the most common technique we use for producing brainwave entrainment music, we do use other brainwave entrainment techniques such as isochronic tones, monaural beats and amplitude modulation. If these techniques have been used then you will find them mentioned in the written description of the music productions that include them. If not mentioned, then you can assume that binaural beats are the only brainwave entrainment technology in use.
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According to a recent study published in the British journal Heart, slow or meditative music is a proven stress buster, so set your dial to a soothing station during your commute. And, if you're stuck in a traffic jam, sneak in this quick exercise: Grab your steering wheel and clench the muscles in your fingers, arms, shoulders and back. Do this until your muscles begin to tremble (about 45 seconds), then release. You'll produce a wave of relief in your upper neck and arms all the way down to your fingers. Just make sure your foot is on the brake when you let go of the wheel! (FYI: pink noise is the newest tool for reducing stress.)
I am fortunate to be working with Deepak Chopra, M.D., and Dr. Rudy Tanzi, co-authors of the bestselling book Super Brain, on a technology called Brain Wave Entrainment. Deepak is very well known, but Rudy is an amazingly interesting person as well. He is the Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Vice-Chair of Neurology at Mass General Hospital. Rudy co-discovered three of the four original Alzheimer's genes and today runs the Alzheimer's Genome Project. He also plays the keyboards, including, at times, for Aerosmith. He is kind of a real life "Buckaroo Banzai."
Brainwaves, or neural oscillations, share the fundamental constituents with acoustic and optical waves, including frequency, amplitude and periodicity. Consequently, Huygens' discovery precipitated inquiry into whether or not the synchronous electrical activity of cortical neural ensembles might not only alter in response to external acoustic or optical stimuli but also entrain or synchronize their frequency to that of a specific stimulus.