Binaural Beats

Okay, so I’m a problem-solver and tool afficionado. This week’s challenge was a three-day meeting (yes, all day, every day!) with a global consultant. I told The Cop at the end of the ordeal, I mean, meeting, that practice really reveals itself most clearly in challenging situations. In this case, I was able to sustain my focus quite effectively for three 10-hour days.

There was a bit of a lull during the couple of hours we discussed rules around VAT (value added tax) in Europe, but the lull felt more like a little bit of relaxing, rather than exhaustion or boredom. And there was a bit of hyper-focus when we talked about IP strategy, because that’s the kind of thing that really captures my imagination. But the point is, my attention was on and my mind was processing well for three very long stretches.

This is good news because I generally do so many things in the course of a day, that I wonder if I still possess the ability to train my attention on a single problem in any kind of sustained manner.

So after the three-day meeting, I felt kind of crispy around the edges. I’d spent so much time in the high end of the beta state that it was hard to kick back into alpha. Well, until I found BrainHack for my iPhone.

BrainHack is a little app that offers binaural beats that can be used to entrain the brain. (The concept is that if one receives a stimulus with a frequency in the range of brain waves, the predominant brain wave frequency moves toward the frequency of the stimulus — a process called entrainment.) This is one of those things that cause me to feel two things equally strongly at once: 1) crazy hippie stuff! and 2) there seems to be some good research backing this up.

When the perceived beat frequency corresponds to the delta, theta, alpha, beta, or gamma range of brainwave frequencies, the brainwaves entrain to or move towards the beat frequency. For example, if a 315 Hz sine wave is played into the right ear and a 325 Hz one into the left ear, the brain is entrained towards the beat frequency (10 Hz, in the alpha range). Since alpha range is associated with relaxation, this has a relaxing effect.

>40 Hz Gamma waves = Higher mental activity, including perception, problem solving, fear, and consciousness

13–40 Hz Beta waves = Active, busy or anxious thinking and active concentration, arousal, cognition

7–13 Hz Alpha waves = Relaxation (while awake), pre-sleep and pre-wake drowsiness

4–7 Hz Theta waves = Dreams, deep meditation, REM sleep

<4 Hz Delta waves = Deep dreamless sleep, loss of body awareness

(The precise boundaries between ranges vary among definitions, and there is no universally accepted standard.)

Okay, and the app costs .99. At the very least, it’s a fun experiment.

This morning I’m going to try a 6 Hz theta binaural beat. It sounds like a thunderstorm, which is appropriate, as it’s raining today in the desert.


2 Responses

  1. Love it. Steven Halpern meets iPhone. Really good app.

  2. I can’t wait for the report!

    Being technology-impaired, I barely know what an app is… ha ha! (kind of kidding, kind of)

    I though of you this weekend when I found an ad for Dyson rental! My boyfriend (Mr. Monica) is very, very excited. He may Dyson up my whole house! (we use Dysan as a verb).

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