Binaural Beats

Binaural beats or binaural tones are auditory processing artifacts, or apparent sounds, the perception of which arises in the brain for specific physical stimuli. This effect was discovered in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove , and earned greater public awareness in the late 20th century based on claims that binaural beats could help induce relaxation, meditation, creativity and other desirable mental states. The effect on the brainwaves depends on the difference in frequencies of each tone: for example, if 300 Hz was played in one ear and 310 in the other, then the binaural beat would have a frequency of 10 Hz.

The brain produces a phenomenon resulting in low-frequency pulsations in the amplitude and sound localisation of a perceived sound when two tones at slightly different frequencies are presented separately, one to each of a subject’s ears, using stereo headphones. A beating tone will be perceived, as if the two tones mixed naturally, out of the brain. The frequencies of the tones must be below 1,000 hertz for the beating to be noticeable. The difference between the two frequencies must be small (less than or equal to 30 Hz) for the effect to occur; otherwise, the two tones will be heard separately and no beat will be perceived.

Binaural beats are of interest to neurophysiologists investigating the sense of hearing.  

Binaural beats reportedly influence the brain in more subtle ways through the entrainment of brainwaves and have been claimed to reduce anxiety and to provide other health benefits such as control over pain.

The sensation of binaural beats is believed to originate in the superior olivary nucleus, a part of the brain stem. They appear to be related to the brain’s ability to locate the sources of sounds in three dimensions and to track moving sounds, which also involves inferior colliculus (IC) neurons.

Other uses

In addition to lowering the brain frequency to relax the listener, there are other controversial, alleged uses for binaural beats. For example, that by using specific frequencies an individual can stimulate certain glands to produce desired hormones. Beta-endorphin has been modulated in studies using alpha-theta brain wave training and dopamine with binaural beats.  Among other alleged uses, there are reducing learning time and sleeping needs (theta waves are thought to improve learning, since children, who have stronger theta waves, and remain in this state for a longer period of time than adults, usually learn faster than adults) some people find that half an hour in the theta state can reduce sleeping needs up to four hours;  similar to another method of achieving a theta state, e.g. meditation,  some use them for lucid dreaming  and even for attempting out-of-body experiences, astral projection, telepathy  and psychokinesis. However, the role of alpha-wave activity in lucid dreaming is subject to ongoing research.

Alpha-theta brainwave training has also been used successfully for the treatment of addictions.

It has been used for the recovery of repressed memories, but as with other techniques this can lead to false memories.

An uncontrolled pilot study of Delta binaural beat technology over 60 days has shown positive effect on self-reported psychologic measures, especially anxiety. There was significant decrease in trait anxiety, an increase in quality of life, and a decrease in insulin-like growth factor-1 and dopamine and has been successfully shown to decrease mild anxiety.    A randomised, controlled study concluded that binaural beat audio could lessen hospital acute pre-operative anxiety.

Another claimed effect for sound induced brain synchronization is enhanced learning ability. It was proposed in the 1970s that induced alpha brain waves enabled students to assimilate more information with greater long term retention.  In more recent times has come more understanding of the role of theta brain waves in behavioural learning.  The presence of theta patterns in the brain has been associated with increased receptivity for learning and decreased filtering by the left hemisphere.

Based on the association between theta activity (4-7 Hz) and working memory performance, biofeedback training suggests that normal healthy individuals can learn to increase a specific component of their EEG activity and that such enhanced activity may facilitate a working  memory task and to a lesser extent focused attention.

Frequency range Name Usually associated with:
> 40 Hz Gamma waves Higher mental activity, including perception, problem solving, fear, and consciousness
13–39 Hz Beta waves Active, busy or anxious thinking and active concentration, arousal, cognition, and or paranoia
7–13 Hz Alpha waves Relaxation (while awake), pre-sleep and pre-wake drowsiness, REM sleep, Dreams
8–12 Hz Mu waves Sensorimotor rhythm Mu rhythm, Sensorimotor rhythm
4–7 Hz Theta waves deep meditation/relaxation, NREM sleep
< 4 Hz Delta waves Deep dreamless sleep, loss of body awareness


Gamma waves with music, 10 minute meditation. Please find a quiet still space, for best results use headphones.

Beta waves with music, 10 minute meditation. Please find a quiet still space, for best results use headphones.

Alpha waves with music, 15 minute meditation. Please find a quiet still space, for best results use headphones.

Mu waves with music, 30 minute meditation. Please find a quiet still space, for best results use headphones.

Theta waves with music, 10 minute meditation. Please find a quiet still space, for best results use headphones.

Delta waves with music, 10 minute meditation. Please find a quiet still space, for best results use headphones.


A personal favourite if you suffer from interrupted  sleep, restlessness and anxiety please play this 30 minutes before bedtime and… relax!