The Power of Brain-Wave Entrainment
By Stephen Pierce
Years of research has shown that brain-waves not only provide insight into an individual's mind and body, but they can be stimulated to actually change that person's current state. By causing the brain to produce or decrease specific types of brain-wave frequencies, it is possible to bring about a large variety of mental states and emotional reactions.
The benefits of brain-wave entrainment - the process of enhancing your normal brain-wave state - has been known to many scientists and doctors for years. These benefits include, but are not limited to, improvements in the following areas: Temporary Pain Relief, Temporary Stress Reduction, Sleeping Disorders, General Relaxation, and Meditation.
Up until the recent discovery of the more effective Isochronic tones, binaural beats were the most recognized form of brain-wave entrainment. Binaural beats were first discovered in 1839 by a German experimenter, H. W. Dove. The human ability to "hear" binaural beats appears to be the result of evolutionary adaptation. Many evolved species can detect binaural beats because of their brain structure.
In humans, binaural beats can be detected when carrier waves are below approximately 1000 Hz. Here's why: wave lengths below 1000 Hz are longer than the diameter of the human skull. Thus, these wave lengths actually curve around the skull by diffraction and are thus heard by both ears. As the sound wave passes around the skull, each ear hears a different portion of the wave - it's this difference that allows for the accurate location of sounds below 1000 Hz.
The types of brain-waves that brain-wave entrainment influences
The brain is made up of billions of brain cells called neurons, which communicate with each other using electrical signals. All of these neurons sending signals at once produce a large amount of electrical activity commonly called a brain-wave pattern, because of its "wave" or cyclic-like nature.
Researchers and scientists have found that different bands of brain-waves are associated with different mental states. For instance, the brain-waves of a sleeping person are much different than the brain-waves of an individual that is wide awake. The speed of a brain-wave is called a frequency; which is measured in Hertz. You can tell a lot about what is going on in a person's head simply by measuring the Hertz value of their brain-waves.
Brain-waves are divided into five predominant speed ranges, or bands. The brain is constantly emitting nearly every type of brain-wave. However, based on the strength of certain bands of brain-waves and depending on where the EEG electrodes are placed on the scalp, a person can be said to be "in" a certain brain-wave or band. Here are the common types of brain-waves...
- Beta (15 - 38Hz) - In this frequency range, a person is fully awake and generally alert. The low Beta range (15-20 HZ) is associated with an increase in metal abilities, IQ and mental focus. The high Beta range (20-38 HZ) is linked to alertness and intention.
- SMR (12 - 15Hz) SMR (sensorimotor rhythm) is related to body motion and linked to increased focus and improved attentive abilities.
- Alpha (8 - 12Hz) - The majority of the population experiences this state just after waking and right before sleep. This range is linked to relaxation, stress relief, self hypnosis, stimulation of the immune system and accelerated learning.
- Theta (3 - 8Hz) - The majority of the population enters into this state during light sleep or extreme relaxation. Low Theta (3 - 5 Hz) is ideal for Meditation and Sleep Replacement. High Theta (5 - 8 Hz) is ideal for Improved Sleeping Patterns, Treatment of Insomnia and Creative Visualization.
- Delta (0.2Hz - 3Hz) - This state is experienced during deep, dreamless, non-REM sleep. While in Delta the body is healing itself and resetting internal clocks. Delta is ideal for Accelerated language retention and stimulating the release of growth hormone.
For this reason, binaural beats require the listener to wear headphones. However, there are many new brain-wave entrainment techniques being developed, such as Isochronic tones, that do not require the use of headphones and that have actually been proven to be two to three times more effective than binaural beats. Isochronic entrainment uses a single tone that is manually spaced, turning on and off in a precise pattern. This actually enhances the effectiveness of audio entrainment for the following reasons:
- Binaural beats require the use of headphones or special speaker assignments. Isochronic tones do not rely on speaker assignments, and therefore can be used without headphones or any special speaker assignments.
- Binaural beats are incapable of entraining the brain's hemispheres individually (because they require both ears). Binaural beats are a disadvantage because many of the modern entrainment protocols used in clinical work currently requires the use of separate stimulation to each ear. This is useful for deep meditation, depression, ADD treatment and cognitive enhancement.
- Studies have found that binaural beats are not as effective as isochronic tones due to the way brain processes the beats. Dr. Gerald Oster, a pioneer in the field of brain-wave technology, made a study of binaural beats concluded that the depth or intensity of the resulting "beat" is only around 3 decibels or 1/10th the volume of a whisper.