In 1839, Heinrich Wilhelm Dove discovered that playing a specific tone in one ear, and a slightly different tone in the other ear, created a pulsating or wobbling sound.
Here’s a short video that demonstrates the effect:
(Of course, Professor Dove used tuning forks, not computer-generated sounds, but the effect was the same!)
What do binaural beats do?
Binaural beats are shown to have a direct influence on brainwaves, allowing the listener to experience different states such as:
- deep sleep
- deep meditation
- being in the "creative zone"
- deep focus
How do they work?
In the example above, you heard the binaural tone of 3 beats per second. This is a result of your brain (both right and left sides) processing the sound and mixing the audio together.
If you listen to these beats for a few minutes, your brain will synchronize with the beat and start producing more Delta waves.
Here’s a quick explanation of the various states:
|Name||Frequency||Result (when awake)||Result (when sleeping)|
|Delta||0-3.9 Hz||Deep meditation||Deep sleep, growth hormone release|
|Theta||4-7.9 Hz||Meditation, "creative zone"||Dreaming (REM sleep)|
|Alpha||8-13.9 Hz||Relaxation, learning|
|Beta||14-40 Hz||Alertness; feelings of being busy or stressed|
|Gamma||40 Hz+||Many theories; more research required|
To experience binaural beats, you MUST wear headphones!
If you play a binaural beat track through regular speakers:
- Worst case: you may not hear anything at all (especially if using phone or tablet speakers).
- Best case: you’ll hear an acoustic beat, not a binaural beat. The sounds will be mixed before they enter your brain.
I’ve produced a short series of videos to explain binaural beats, their pros and cons, and various myths associated with the brain. You can watch the first video here.