Brainwave Entrainment Can Help You Improve Your Mental States
Recently, professionals in the areas of psychology, neurology, medical health and self-help have begun utilizing the power of brainwave entrainment in their work with patients and clients. Advances in the effectiveness of brainwave entrainment have been significant.
What is brainwave entrainment?
It is a relatively young but rapidly growing field that involves the study of how altering brainwaves naturally can allow people to easily enter states of increased intelligence, creativity, relaxation, pure energy and more! Researchers and scientists have found that different bands of brainwaves are associated with different mental states. Scientific studies have shown that brainwaves 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 brainwave frequencies, it is possible to bring about a large variety of mental states and emotional reactions.
How does this work?
Here’s the science behind this incredible breakthrough: 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 Brainwave pattern, because of its “wave” or cyclic-like nature. “Entrainment” is a principle in physics, where two cycles synchronize naturally with each other in order to work more efficiently. Entrainment is applied to chemistry, astronomy, electrical systems and much more – but can also be applied to the brain.
When the brain is provided with a stimulus, through the ears, eyes or other senses, it emits an electrical charge in response. This is called a Cortical Evoked Response. These electrical responses travel throughout the brain to become what an individual sees and hears. When the brain is given a consistent, repeating stimulus, such as drum beats or flashes of light, the brain responds by synchronizing, or entraining, its electric cycles to the external rhythm. This is commonly called the Frequency Following Response (or FFR), and it can be used to effectively alter our brainwave patterns.
In the last 10 years, there have been great advancements in the field of brainwave entrainment as it relates to cognitive functioning. Studies have shown that the brains of many people are actually functioning at low capacity. By targeting the specific brainwave band that is related to states of intense concentration and strong focus, scientists have been able to help individuals improve their academic performance. Entrainment can also be used to induce states of relaxation and even deep states akin to deep meditation. This can have profound benefits for people who are seeking to perform certain types of work, art or even attain certain spiritual states.
Still Wondering Whether Brainwave Entrainment Really Works?
In 1999, the Journal of Neurotherapy published a case study conducted by Thomas Budzynski, Ph.D. In the study Dr. Budzynski used 8 college students who were struggling academically. After undergoing audio-visual brainwave stimulation, the students outperformed a control group and significantly increased their grade point average. The GPA for the 8 students continued to rise even after treatment was discontinued!
Drs. Siegfried and Susan Othmer found that neurofeedback brainwave training in the 15-18 Hz range can produce significant shifts in IQ score, particularly with people who are suffering from ADD/ADHD and other disorders. In cases where the starting IQ value is less than 100, the average IQ increase was 33 points! They also found significant improvements in memory, reading and arithmetic. In a one year follow-up, trainees showed major improvements in self-esteem, concentration and self-expression.
There Are Two Ways to Alter Brainwaves: Binaural Beats and Isochronic Tones
Binaural beats are the most recognized form of brainwave entrainment because it is the earliest. With binaural beats, a slightly different tone is presented into each ear. The tones then combine in the brain to form a pulse or “beat”. The pulse heard by the listener is actually the difference between the two tones. For example, if the left ear is given a tone at 20 hertz and the right ear is given a tone of 30 hertz, then the listener will hear a beat of 10 hertz. And the brain will entrain to that rhythm.
While binaural beats are by far the most used form of brainwave entrainment, other more modern methods are quickly gaining popularity. The most promising of the new methods is Isochronic Tones. Isochronic tones are a somewhat less well known form of entrainment; however, they have proven to be much more effective. 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.
Three More Reasons Why Isochronic Tones Are Better Than Binaural Beats:
1) 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.
2) 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.
3) Studies have found that binaural beats are not as effective as isochronic tones due to the way brain processes the beats. Dr. Gerald Oster’s, a pioneer in the field of brainwave technology, 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.
The difference between the peaks and troughs in the wave pattern determines the strength of the Cortical Evoked Response. Looking at the binaural beat pattern on a monitor, it is clear that the wave is shallow. The entrainment is harder to detect and leaves only a minor electrical imprint on the brain. Conversely, the isochronic tone pattern shows each pulse as individual and separated. This results in much greater evoked potentials within the auditory cortex of the brain.
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- Brain Frequency and Binaural Beats