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Medical Binaural Beats

  1. Sep 6, 2011 #1
    Many years ago I happened to stumble across this subject while's doing a psych A level, and considered it for my coursework. I dropped it however due to the simple fact that I could not at that time read more than a paragraph about the concept without some sort of fantastical claim of lay line, earth mother, hologram universe psuedoscientific drivel. There was however -some- suggestion that the same effect was observed in scientific experiment from using electromagnetic aparatus to modify brainwave frequency, I could not find much of anything on this subject though. Attempting to use a program that supposedly caused this effect gave mixed results, I attempted to use it on an unsuspecting friend to eliminate placebo and they reported no effect beyond a headache :)

    So, 7 years or so later, I notice there is a wikipedia page about it which doesn't seem to want to debunk the idea, so I am wondering if my assumption that it was all a load of rubbish was a rush to judgement.

    If the concept does work, in theory it could help one sleep, wake up, and errr, ok that's all I got. So I guess this is just a general inquiry, if anyone has any knowledge or thoughts on the validity of the science underpinning bineural beats, and indeed the potential applications for it I am eager to re-examine my opinion.

    edit> the wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binaural_beats#
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 6, 2011 #2


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    Re: Bineural Beats

    binaural (not neural) beats are (for example) when you play two notes at the same time, you perceive a "beat" between them.

    If you're tuning a guitar, as you tune the guitar closer to the note you're comparing it to, the beat slows down until it's non-existent when you're "perfectly" in tune with the other note.
  4. Sep 6, 2011 #3
    Re: Bineural Beats

    Ugh I wish I could edit the title.

    So the wikipedia page states such and such scientific evidence for binaural beats as applied technology. The discussion on that page however seems to be, as I had previously thought, treating it as pseudoscience.

    What I am specifically not clear on are the following:

    Does this work in terms of being able to change brainwaves?
    If not, are there technologies that do just this and/or how far can you go with such technology? Could you actually put someone to sleep by inducing delta waves for example (I am a layperson and I am fully aware that I don't understand the brain, go easy!)
  5. Sep 6, 2011 #4
    Advanced Edit lets you edit the title. just a FYI. :)
  6. Sep 6, 2011 #5


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    Re: Bineural Beats

    Note that the binaural beat is only what I described and to that end it is a valid observation. Claims about what binaural effects can do for humans are a different story.

    There is some research in the entrainment of biological neural networks to induce synchronization as discussed in the thread linked below (from a paper where it is assumed this is already a 'strategy' of the brain in nature).


    So there is a physical mechanism, but is there a significant resulting biological or psychological effect? Or would we be able to control those effects with any precision? Not that I know of.
  7. Sep 6, 2011 #6


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    I wrote about the science behind these "light and sound" goggles when they came out in the early 1990s. There is an entrainment effect, but it doesn't do anything special. Certainly no more than meditating or going for a run.

    Bottom-line: a bit of fun, won't change your life.
  8. Sep 7, 2011 #7
    I notice there is a bunch of discussion on this forum about it, which I would have found had I not mispelled it when I searched xD

    So am I correct in assuming that 'binaural beats' are not strictly pseudoscience?

    Are the other examples of entrainment that have recieved more attention with regards to scientific study?
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