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Now talking about music and beats and notes and tunes, around everything that related to melody inevitably fascinates me. But even though we have had this long journey with music, binaural beats are one of the most interesting aspects of music that we’ve ever come across. Maybe you have heard of this term, maybe you haven’t, anyway, we are going to talk about how binaural beats work and how it affects our minds.
But before we get right into it, first let’s understand what really are Binaural Beats.
What are Binaural Beats?
As the name goes, binaural beats are beats made up of two tones. However both of these tones are not exactly the same, they differ slightly in the aspect of frequency. One of the main things to note is the difference between the two tones – it can not be more than 30Hz and another thing to take care of is that both the frequencies individually should possess a frequency less than 1000 Hz.
To make it more understandable, here’s an example – consider a beat corresponding to 300 Hz and another corresponding to 315 Hz, now both of are frequencies are less than 1000 Hz and are heard individually in each ear and have a frequency difference of 15 Hz, i.e. less than 30 Hz.
Both of these tones are heard individually in each ear and the interesting part is right here. The brain doesn’t hear them as two different, individual beats playing around in your ears, rather the brain cycles a beat at the difference of both of these beats. And then you hear it as one single beat. And that is what we find really fascinating about binaural beats.
Now binaural beats have been explored in music for a long long time, but quite recently, they have been linked to some of its probable health benefits. And that is exactly what we are trying to get into.
Does it really affect the mind, and if yes, then how?
Binaural beats are basically auditory illusions and it’s so fancy to even think about it. Illusions created through sound, interesting, right?
Over time, binaural beats have been believed to be linked to our brain activity and memory. It has been a common belief that binaural beats aid in decreasing anxiety, bringing about more focus, improving your overall memory and enhancing the mood.
And if a person listens to them over a substantial period of time, he can notice changes in his sleep cycle and overall focus.
Now, this has been “believed” over the years, but you should understand that there’s no medical verdict to confirm this belief or make it legitimate in a way so as to replace the traditional methods of treatment.
How does it work?
Now, let’s try to understand how our brain works when we listen to binaural beats and how it might be linked to our focus, memory and mood. What happens when we listen to a binaural beat is we hear two separate beats of slightly different frequencies and the areas located far apart in our brain, kind of synchronize with each other to make a beat pertaining to a different frequency that lies between both the given beats.
Now maybe, the fact that it stimulates two far off areas in our brain to work together to make a single beat out of two different beats is the reason that it helps to boost our focus and memory.
How do frequencies affect their work?
Now there is a difference in the way our brain reacts to different beats even if presented in the binaural form.
Let’s understand it. There are five main categories of frequency pattern:
1) Delta Pattern:
Now the frequencies that fall into this range are 0.5 to 4 Hz. According to some surveys and reports, people who used these frequencies for the binaural beats entered a deeper, dreamless sleep at night.
2) Theta Pattern:
The frequencies that fall under this range is of 4-7 Hz. The people who were subjected to this binaural frequency range were found to have better sleep, and better meditation and concentration power.
3) Alpha Pattern:
The beats that fall under this category are of the range 7-13 Hz. People subjected to this frequency rate were more relaxed and peaceful.
4) Beta Pattern:
The frequency beats falling in this category are of the range 13-30 Hz. The people subjected to this frequency range were better at concentration and alertness. Though, at the higher end of this range, people subjected might complain of increased anxiety.
5) Gamma Pattern:
The binaural beats falling in this category are in the range of 30-50 Hz. This frequency range is seen to facilitate sustenance of arousal, this is when the person is awake.
Can it be used as a treatment for anxiety and stress?
Binaural beats have been lately an emerging form of sound wave therapy. It does help in relieving stress and improving focus and has been used as a self-help treatment for a long time by many people. But to make it the core treatment of your anxiety and stress is clearly not advisable. You see, there isn’t any firm verdict about the clinical benefits of using binaural beats as a form of treatment for anxiety and stress. It only helps in improving the focus and memory to some extent. Therefore it is not recommended to replace your traditional treatment methods with this treatment method. Because in all honesty, the binaural beats treatment method is just an experimental element and before there is a firm verdict about it being really of help far enough to replace traditional methods, you should not think about replacing your traditional treatment methods.
Why Headphones are necessary for listening to Binaural beats properly?
Now we are sure you are not intending on listening to the binaural beats without using a good pair of stereo headphones. Um, are you?
Well for that matter, here is the actual deal. If you want to listen to the binaural beats and intend to experience the mighty, otherworldly, auditory illusion, okay that’s a bit of embroidering but you get the point right? If you really want to listen to the binaural beats and experience the auditory illusion, you want two different frequencies to enter each of your ears and that too individually.
That would quite be difficult using a speaker instead of a headphone. And you can imagine that. Because the mechanism used here is sound and if you use speakers, there is a clear possibility that the sounds can get mixed with each other. And what you want is a different sound in each of your ears. And that too at the same time.
When you do not use a headphone, there’s a big chance that both the frequencies get mixed with each other. There’s an even bigger chance that other sounds and frequencies from the surrounding may get mixed with the binaural beats. And that’s just contradicting the whole point of it.
The only way you are using speakers and are close to getting the binaural beat is if you are sitting right between two speakers at just the right distance, there’s no outside sound and each ear only receives one individual sound.
Yeah, we know the chances are pretty feeble, but then again, don’t be disappointed. Chances are if you are a superman/superwoman, you might as well achieve it.
Well seriously, the whole point is for maximum benefit you should go for a pair of good quality stereo headphones and a music system.
That way the frequency following response, which is the third beat that you hear or the resultant frequency in a binaural beat, would be satisfactory.
And to detect that third beat, at a specific frequency, is not really possible with speakers.
Various people use it for various reasons that range according to their needs.
Some may use it for better sleep, some may use it for increased concentration and focus, some may use it for dealing with anxiety, some may use it for meditation, some may use it for good long term memory, or some may use it just for a better mood. These choices depend entirely on a person and his needs.
Well, now you know what binaural beats are and how they can affect your mind. Though the effects are not really clinically acclaimed but still in some people, these aftermaths are observed and for the good.
So yes, don’t replace the binaural beats treatment with your traditional treatment, but do go for it in case you want to de-stress yourself, relax a bit, up to your mood, focus better, improve concentration, meditate, improve memory or any of such things. And also take care of how you respond to it and act accordingly.
Also, always use a good quality stereo headphone for the best experience.
Go on, and bequeath yourself in the grand auditory illusion. Okay again, that’s a bit overdoing it, but we like it this way, don’t we?