Self-Improvement Through Sound - Can Audio Be As Effective As Medication?

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Wouldn't it be great if we could use "sounds" to make us feel the way we want to feel? It would be sort of like tuning a radio. If we could feel more calm or focused by putting on a pair of headphones, we MAY well be able to supplement or even replace medication or traditional therapy.

There is a lot of evidence to support the theory that our thought processes, what is going on in our minds at any given time, determine not only our moods, but our personalities and behavior as well.

Most people would agree that our thought processes are largely governed by how each of us sees the world. Our "world models" are made up of a large combination of experiences and beliefs, which in turn are influenced by how we experience the world. A huge part of that experience comes from the data our senses take in, what we see, hear, feel, smell and taste.

Breaking things down a bit more, it could be said that the sounds we hear strongly influence our world models, and by that, our personalities, mood and behavior.

It turns out that now it IS possible to use audio to direct our brains toward just about any mood or emotion we want. This isn't about hypnosis inductions or affirmations, but something called "binaural beats" listened to through headphones. Our brainwave frequencies are known to be associated with certain states of mind. For example, alpha waves (8-14 cycles-per-second, or "hertz") are associated with relaxation; beta waves (14-30 hertz) correlate with focus and alertness, etc.

Now if we listen to two different sine-wave tones, one in each ear, our brains (not our ears) hear the mathematical difference between the two. For instance, if a 200 hertz sine wave is playing on one side, and a 210 hertz tone is playing on the other, your brain will "hear" a rhythm of 10 hertz. This rhythm is referred to as "binaural beats."

Now when your brain listens to binaural beats at a specific frequency, its brainwaves tend to synchronize to the same frequency. So listening to alpha binauaral beats (say, 10 beats per second) will tend to cause your brainwaves to play along at the same frequency. So since brainwaves in the alpha range are associated with relaxation, that means listening to alpha bianaural beats will tend to make you relax. How cool is that? The same is true for the effects of beats in the other zones.

Now before you rush out and buy CDs or mp3s of binaural programs, you should realize something important. You need to listen to these programs in headphones! If you just play them on speakers, the two separate tones needed to cause your brain to hear binaural beats won't be separate any more. No binaural beats, no synchronization of brainwaves. I once sat in a medical waiting room that was playing some music over their room speakers very quietly.

The receptionist slyly told me the music was "subliminal," and would cause the people in the waiting room to relax. I picked up the CD case and saw that it was music encoded with alpha binaural beats. But it wasn't going to work any better than any "regular" music in the relaxation department.

The receptionist was a bit disappointed when I showed him the text on the CD case saying the effect would only work if listened to over the headphones. This is important for you to know if you want to explore the effects of the binaural beats.

Anyway, if you want to start exploring and experiencing binaural beats, check out

5 comments on “Self-Improvement Through Sound - Can Audio Be As Effective As Medication?”

  1. Binaural beats are not the only form of audio entrainment. Monaural beats and isochronic tones are both more effective then binaural beats, and do not require headphones.

  2. Thanks Amanda - One thing I'd love to do is get hold of as much available evidence for brainwave entrainment possible. Do you have access to literature on monaural and isochronic tones and their effectiveness compared to binaural beats?



  3. Thanks Amanda – One thing I’d love to do is get hold of as much available evidence for brainwave entrainment possible. Do you have access to literature on monaural and isochronic tones and their effectiveness compared to binaural beats?

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