Author: Ezra Melvin
It may sound unbelievable, but certain kinds of auditory effects known as binaural beats can reduce anxiety and the symptoms associated with anxiety, according to medical science researchers. But before we dive into the anti-anxiety benefits of binaural beats and music associated with them, we first need to examine just what binaural beats are and what effects they may have on the body. Without further ado, let’s jump right into it!
The Science Behind Binaural Beats
Scientists have actually been aware of the powers of binaural beats for some time now. In 1839, a Prussian physicist and meteorologist named Heinrich Wilhelm Dove discovered what we now know as the binaural beat effect. However, public awareness of the phenomenon did not come into being until late into the 20th century, when psychologists and auditory scientists began to popularize the use of binaural beats for assuaging psychological ailments.
Here is the way it works. When your ears are each presented with a slightly different frequency, your brain has to work out the difference. The result of those processes is the appearance of a “phantom” beat – the binaural beat. The frequency of this beat is equal to the difference between the two other beats. In other words, if one of your ears is presented with a beat that has a frequency of 300 Hz (hertz – the unit which stands for cycles per second and named for a different Heinrich; Heinrich Hertz) while your other ear is presented with a beat which has a frequency of 310 Hz, then the binaural beat that your brain creates will have a beat with a frequency of 10 Hz.
Now, that sounds like a lot of science goobidy-gluck (yes, I did just invent that word), but here’s what it means for you. When your brain generates that binaural beat of 10 Hz, your actual brainwaves may begin to take on that particular frequency. Specific brainwave frequencies are associated with different states of mind. The idea this: if your brain begins to take on that specific frequency, then you will achieve a new state of mind. Here is a table based on research in the field of electroencephalography which charts out the various types of brainwaves and their correspondence to psychological state:
|Type of Wave||Frequency (in Hz)||Psychological State|
|Delta Waves||0.05 Hz – 3.99 Hz||Associated with non-REM sleep.|
|Theta Waves||4 Hz – 7 Hz||Associated with drowsiness.|
|Alpha Waves||8 Hz – 15 Hz||Associated with relaxation and reflection, closed eyes. Meditation.|
|Beta Waves||16 Hz – 31 Hz||Associated with active cognition on the low end. Anxiety on the high end.|
As you can see from this table, if you are in theory able to change your brainwaves to a specific frequency, then it should be possible to induce states of relaxation and calm in even the most anxious of minds. As with most things, that is easier said than done, but there are some interesting directions in which science is going that could possibly be relevant for us here. In fact, it may be possible just to listen to music with binaural beats to induce states of calm and relaxation based on the principles we just discussed.
Can Binaural Beats Cure Anxiety?
Well, “cure” is a pretty big word, don’t you agree? If binaural beats are capable of curing anxiety, that would not surprise me. But, it’s more likely that these forms of beats will have at least a marginal effect upon your anxiety symptoms given the current research in the scientific literature. Let’s take a closer look now at a study authored by Le Scouarnec et al and titled “Use of binaural beat tapes for treatment of anxiety: a pilot study of tape preference and outcomes” which examined this question in greater depth.
The scientists in that study found that binaural beats did in fact have a major benefit for sufferers of anxiety. In fact, here is their full conclusion from the abstract of the paper:
Listening to binaural beat tapes in the delta/theta electroencephalogram range may be beneficial in reducing mild anxiety. Future studies should account for music preference among participants and include age as a factor in outcomes, incentives to foster tape listening, and a physiologic measure of anxiety reduction. A controlled trial that includes binaural beat tapes as an adjunctive treatment to conventional therapy for mild anxiety may be warranted.
That is very hopeful indeed! Given that a reputable scientific study has found an effect on anxiety due to binaural beats, this certainly warrants our attention. The final question you may have is where you can find music which uses binaural beats. Let’s answer that one now.
Where Can I Find Binaural Beats?
Here is where it gets a bit tricky. Due to the quality standards of major content providers like YouTube and Vimeo, the sound you are receiving out of those videos may not be configured properly to give you the stereophonic effects that you need to properly implement the binaural beat. That is why we recommend you go with a dedicated MP3 collection which you can play on your iPod or other music device. By choosing a dedicated collection of music, you are ensuring that you receive all the benefits of the binaural beat effect and its mood-enhancing properties.
What Do You Recommend?
To that end, I recommend you go with a dedicated binaural beats program or MP3 collection. You’ll also want to have a good pair of headphones for ensuring that it all works properly.
That’s right! You’ll need headphones. Your computer’s speakers are simply not good enough for this task. Here are some of the products that I recommend to get you started with binaural beat therapy as quickly as possible:
A great binaural beats album:
Some good-quality, noise-cancelling headphones that will ensure you get the full effect of binaural beats and the entrainment processes:
Have you had any good experiences with binaural beats? We’d love to hear about them. Please leave a message below if you feel like it!