Changes in neural oscillations, demonstrable through electroencephalogram (EEG) measurements, are precipitated by listening to music, which can modulate autonomic arousal ergotropically and trophotropically, increasing and decreasing arousal respectively. Musical auditory stimulation has also been demonstrated to improve immune function, facilitate relaxation, improve mood, and contribute to the alleviation of stress. These findings have contributed to the development of neurologic music therapy, which uses music and song as an active and receptive intervention, to contribute to the treatment and management of disorders characterized by impairment to parts of the brain and central nervous system, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, cerebral palsy, Alzheimer's disease, and autism.
There basically are a few things that you can use to deduce whether you think these claims are true, and will work for you. A few manufacturers of this type of product have taken the time to hook up experienced meditators (like zen monks) to encephelographs, then fashion their audios to mimic what is occurring in these deep meditators’ brains. It would make sense then, to a large degree, that you could experience similar benefits from your brain undergoing this process.
I am fortunate to be working with Deepak Chopra, M.D., and Dr. Rudy Tanzi, co-authors of the bestselling book Super Brain, on a technology called Brain Wave Entrainment. Deepak is very well known, but Rudy is an amazingly interesting person as well. He is the Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Vice-Chair of Neurology at Mass General Hospital. Rudy co-discovered three of the four original Alzheimer's genes and today runs the Alzheimer's Genome Project. He also plays the keyboards, including, at times, for Aerosmith. He is kind of a real life "Buckaroo Banzai."
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Transparent Corp's Research Area is arguably the most comprehensive resource for collated brainwave entrainment research. Update: the main research area on Transparent Corp's website is currently being updated, so it is offline. However, you can still access their peer-reviewed research paper as a PDF here: “A Comprehensive Review of the Psychological Effects of Brainwave Entrainment“.
Binaural beats require two separate tones from two sources that are combined inside the listener’s brain to form the target tone. The lower frequency sound is called the carrier tone, and it is combined with a higher frequency sound known as the offset tone. Because of this, binaural beats must be listened to with stereo headphones or the effect is lost. Binaural beats create a hypnotic effect, but they are not the most effective tool for brainwave entrainment, and binaural beats are often ineffective for people with hearing loss.
Generally, the established brain entrainment technology has been to use various static levels, lowering the carrier frequency of the binaural signals over time. By doing this, you basically increase the resonant power of the carrier frequency to resonate more deeply with the resonant frequency of the brain and the nervous system. This process pushes the nervous system over time. The limitation I find with this system is that it takes a static approach, in the sense that it gives the nervous system the same degree of stimulation day in and day out. The idea here is that if you keep whamming your nervous system with the same stimulation on a daily basis, it will eventually kick in and learn. Then your nervous system and your brain will jump to the next level.
For me, brainwave entrainment actually helped me more easily meditate on my own without the technology. There is definitely evidence to suggest that the neural pathways that form from listening to these audios aids the brain in better producing these brainwaves on its own moving forward. Though I used brainwave entrainment for several years, almost daily, there was also a point in my life where I went without the technology and meditated daily on my own. I believe that even this practice was accelerated drastically by my listening to bwe in the past.
Subsequently, the term 'entrainment' has been used to describe a shared tendency of many physical and biological systems to synchronize their periodicity and rhythm through interaction. This tendency has been identified as specifically pertinent to the study of sound and music generally, and acoustic rhythms specifically. The most ubiquitous and familiar examples of neuromotor entrainment to acoustic stimuli is observable in spontaneous foot or finger tapping to the rhythmic beat of a song.