The following information is in reference to Chapter 15, page 188 of The Power Of Sound.
Recommended resources. In America, only a handful of individuals and companies specialize in the use of binaural beat frequencies (BBFs). The following is a short list; additional companies are listed in “Soundwork Resources.”
1. Monroe Products features a very extensive catalog of highly effective Hemi-Sync recordings. The breadth of the following category list is a testament of the company’s fifty-plus years of development and application of the Hemi-Sync process: Allergies, Anger, Attention Deficit Disorder (hyperactivity), Blood Pressure, Breathing, Changing Behavior Patterns (addictive behavior/anxiety/depression), Death and Dying, Energy, Expanded Awareness, Financial Success, Fitness and Sports, Frustrations, General Wellness, Immune System, Learning and Memory, Meditation and Spiritual Development, Pain Management, Personal Growth, Pregnancy and Childbirth, Problem Solving and Creativity, Self-Confidence, Sensory Improvement, Sleep and Dreams, Stress, Surgery, Weight Control.
Many of these applications are extended programs. “Progressive Accelerated Learning,” the “Surgical Support Series” and “Positive Immunity” are comprehensive multi-CD listening programs. Many series are created in conjunction with leading experts. “Going Home”—an extraordinary program for caregivers and those dying—is a 15-CD program. It was developed by Robert Monroe in collaboration with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D., the world-famous authority on death and dying, and Charles Tart, a renowned researcher of altered states of consciousness. The exercises provide direct, personal experience to release the fear of death, facilitate living fully in the moment, resolve unfinished business, and explore beyond the physical.
Hemi-Sync frequencies are barely audible and are accompanied by music or pink noise (sounds such as distant ocean waves). Some programs include verbal cues or guided imagery.
2. The Monroe Institute. The Monroe Institute (TMI) was established in 1985 . Thousands of research hours have been spent in study of the use of sound waves. TMI hosts an extensive professional division of licensed healthcare providers and educators. These volunteers research and network the use of Hemi-Sync programs in their various specializations and institutions. Bi-Annual conferences are conducted in which current results are presented. TMI also offers multiple in-house programs for corporate and public use of BBFs.
3. Center for NeuroAcoustic Research. Dr. Jeffrey Thompson is the founder and director of CNR (see p. 227). He began researching the effects of sound in healing and changing states of consciousness in 1981. His recordings are used by the general public, psychotherapists, hypnotherapists, psychiatrists, physicians, and bodyworkers around the world. All recordings contain special modulated sound pulses that cause a sympathetic response in brainwaves to change consciousness into a deeply relaxed state.
Thompson’s Psycho-Sensory Integration series (PSI) recordings are specially composed programs designed to bring the mind into the ultimate receptive state for deep relaxation and therapy while eliciting distinct emotional responses. Designed for use with headphones, the PSI series was originally created to be used through the vibroacoustic delivery of Thompson’s PSI Sound Induction Therapy Table. The CDs and table together create what he calls the Psychosensory Integration Sonic Induction System.
Dr. Thompson is a pioneer in acoustic vibration research and an innovator in BBF production. Most BBF matrices are laid under an existing soundtrack. Dr. Thompson’s approach is different and quite creative. He creates the BBF effect by precisely detuning the stereo channel of each instrument. His BBF patterns are built into the harmonics of each instrument sound you hear, into the stereo field traveling spatially to the right or left hemisphere of the brain, into bird sounds, water, crickets, human voices, and NASA space recordings. Dr. Thompson conducts occasional workshops in the United States.
4. Brain Sync. With over two million audio programs in print, Brain Sync founder Kelly Howell is highly acclaimed for her pioneering work in healing and mind expansion. In the early 1980s, while researching the mind and it’s potential, she began making personalized re-programming tapes in her living room. Seeing powerful changes in her life and her client’s lives lead to years of research and production. In 1990 she formed Brain Sync offering a wide range of recordings for meditation, healing, spiritual growth and mind expansion. Over the years, Kelly has worked in cooperation with scientists, medical professionals, brain researchers and spiritual teachers to develop her audio techniques. Brain Sync recording categories include: depression, insomnia, ADHD, stress, addiction, weight loss, and surgery. (www.brainsync.com)
Recent BBF Research
To give an indication of the growing interest and varied applications of BBFs, I’ve selected the following research projects. They were conducted using varied binaural frequency formats.
“The Psychoacoustics of Binaural Hearing.” This 2006 paper introduces the major phenomena of binaural hearing. The sounds arriving at the two ears are rarely the same: usually one ear will be partially shadowed from the sound source by the head, and the sound will also have to travel further to get to that ear. The resulting differences in interaural level and time can be detected by the auditory system and can be used to determine the direction of the source of sound. They also facilitate improvements in the detectability of a target sound masked by some other sound from some other direction. In many circumstances there is a special emphasis to the onset of a sound, which helps to perceptually suppress the complex patterns of reflections and reverberations that are present in most listening environments; yet, the auditory system is often insensitive to—and cannot take advantage of—fast dynamic changes within a sound.41
“Hemispheric-Synchronization During Anesthesia.” In a 1999 study conducted in England, the possible pain-relieving effect of hemispheric-synchronized sounds, classical music, and blank tape were investigated in patients undergoing surgery under general anesthesia. The study was performed on 76 patients, aged 18 to 75 years.
The general anesthesia was standardized and consisted of four elements: propofol, nitrous oxide/oxygen, isoflurane, and fentanyl. The purpose of the fentanyl is to keep the intra-operative heart rate and arterial blood pressure within 20 percent of pre-op baseline values.
The results: Patients to whom hemispheric-synchronized sounds were played under general anesthesia required significantly less fentanyl compared with patients listening to classical music or blank tape. The mean values of fentanyl: hemispheric-sync sounds/28 micrograms, classical music/124 micrograms, and blank tape/126 micrograms.42
“Binaural Beat Audio and Pre-operative.” Pre-operative anxiety is common and often significant. Ambulatory surgery challenges the pre-operative goal of an anxiety-free patient by requiring people to be ‘street ready’ within a brief period of time after surgery. Recently (2005), it has been demonstrated that music can be used successfully to relieve patient anxiety before operations, and that audio embedded with tones that create binaural beats within the brain of the listener decreases subjective levels of anxiety in patients with chronic anxiety states. Binaural beat audio has the potential to decrease acute pre-operative anxiety significantly.43
“Binaural Auditory Beats Affect Vigilance, Performance, and Mood.” In 1997 a joint study from the departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center and the Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies, School of Nursing, at the University of Virginia was released.44 This study was designed to investigate whether different patterns of binaural beat stimulation could produce changes in level of alertness manifested in behavior and mood. Twenty-nine people, with an average age of 32 years, participated in the research. Their task was the detection, during a thirty-minute continuous stream of information, of 180 duplicate letters on a computer screen. Instructions emphasized continuous monitoring, rapid response, and good performance. Mood assessment tests were administered before and after the tests to assess task-related changes in mood. Research participants listened through headphones to different binaural beat matrices during each of the three testing periods.
The authors concluded that “the results of the study provide evidence that presentation of simple binaural auditory beat stimuli during a 30-minute vigilance task can affect both the task performance and the changes in mood associated with the task.” They found that binaural beats in the beta frequency range were associated with relative improvements in target detection and reduction in the number of false alarms compared to the binaural beats in the theta/delta range. Scores on their confusion/bewilderment scale rose significantly during the theta/delta frequency stimulation. Changes observed in this study suggest that the theta/delta binaural beats produced a subjective impairment in the ability to think clearly for a task requiring a narrow focus of attention. Results also suggest that the negative changes in mood produced by a monotonous task may have been partially ameliorated by the presentation of the beta-frequency binaural beats. Given that beta frequencies are present during active thinking processes, and theta/delta frequencies are most frequently found during sleep, this was not a surprise. Nonetheless, scientific research demands that this level of scrutiny be accomplished.
“The phenomenon of auditory beat stimulation and its psychophysiological consequences deserve further study” state the authors of the study. “Little is known about the mechanisms that may be involved in the transduction of simple auditory changes into changes of mood and performance demonstrated here. However, the results of this study demonstrate clearly that simple binaural-beat auditory stimulation can influence psychomotor and affective processes.”45
Their recommendations: “There may be potential applications for the self-control of arousal, attention, and performance. There may be potential applications of these performance-enhancing signals in situations that demand high levels of continuous sustained attention and performance, such as commercial highway driving or air traffic control. Performance-enhancing stimulation may prove useful in other occupational tasks as well. Conversely, binaural-beat stimulation that decreases arousal may have applications in the treatment of insomnia or stress.”46
“A Study of Cognitive Substance Abuse Treatment with and without Auditory Guidance.” This 1996 study was conducted at the Mount Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka, Alaska. Twenty-eight Native Alaskan/American (NAA) men were being treated for alcoholism in a five-week in-hospital chemical dependency therapy and education program. In this study, auditory tapes containing binaural frequencies were utilized as part of the treatment program.
In the Results and Discussion section of the study, the authors state: “This small group study on the effects of cognitive/self-regulation therapy augmented with auditory guidance in treatment and six-month and projected one-year post treatment behavior assessments indicates the following: mean scores on four clinical scales (depression, hysteria, paranoia, and psychasthenia) clearly relevant to substance abuse were significantly re-duced in comparison to cognitive/self-regulation therapy alone. The value of auditory guidance training appeared confirmed somewhat in reducing self-reported stress.” The authors conclude that while “Only limited data was obtained on the ‘success’ of augmenting cognitive/self-regulation therapy with auditory guidance training, there were some indications that adding auditory guidance training may help reduce the monthly amount spent by NAAs failing to refrain from substance abuse, lengthen the period that NAAs remain abstinent, and increase the percentage of total abstinence for NAAs completing substance abuse programming.”47
“Music and Hemi-Sync in the Treatment of Children with Developmental Disabilities.” 48 Dr. Suzanne Evans Morris works with developmentally disabled children. Her specialization is communication disorders in children with severe motor dysfunction. In this study, published in 1996, the role of music and music with Hemi-Sync was explored in the rehabilitation of 20 developmentally disabled children. The children ranged in age from 5 months to 8 years, with an average age of 2 years. Children had received diagnoses of cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autism, and uncontrolled seizure disorder. All children were referred to Morris because of severe feeding and pre-speech problems. Eighteen of the children were nonverbal and nonambulatory.
Music was included in the child’s program as a way of creating an auditory environment to make learning easier. Music with a tempo of 60 beats per minute was selected to provide a quieting background and a regular rhythm and rate which was similar to the tempo of the heartbeat and walking rhythms. This style of music is generally thought of as “superlearning music,” because it has been shown to increase the learning and retention rate of verbal materials. Sixty beats per minute takes on an added significance in Morris’s circumstance. This rhythm also corresponds to the tempo of a baby’s sucking rhythm.
Morris reports that the response to this “superlearning music” was very positive. “Most children became calmer and less distractible during the therapy sessions. Several showed a more normal response to touch and an increased ability to organize sensory information.” While the improved reactions were noted during times of therapy, Morris reports, minimal carryover of the improved sensory organization took place when the children were out of the therapeutic environment. Because of the positive responses, albeit temporary, Morris began studying the addition of Hemi-Sync auditory tapes to see if there was a difference.
The frequency in which the Hemi-Sync material was used varied per child. Eighteen children (from the original twenty) continued to receive therapy, consisting of one to eight 45-minute therapy sessions per month. Hemi-Sync tapes were also provided to families of eleven of the children for use during play-learning sessions and for falling asleep. Tapes were used for one month to three years, with the majority of children using the tapes for four to six months.
Says Morris, “The child’s nonverbal responses to therapy were carefully documented. Each change of expression, body movement, shift of attention, etc., was interpreted as a means of communicating like or dislike, comfort or discomfort with what was occurring at that moment. These nonverbal reactions became the clearest clues indicating whether a musical or Hemi-Sync background was acceptable to the child’s system. Nonverbal responses were positive in 18 of the 20 children.”49
The purpose of the observations was to obtain a clinical impression of the role which Hemi-Sync in a musical format could play in the feeding and pre-speech rehabilitation of the child. The study was explorative in nature and formal data was not collected. However, clinical records described activities, the child’s response, and the type of auditory background which was used.
Dr. Morris found that children who continued to receive music with Hemi-Sync showed positive behavioral changes in therapy. As a contrast, these changes were not evident in sessions with no music or with no Hemi-Sync. While positive changes were also noted with the “superlearning music,” the degree of change and permanence was more pronounced when Hemi-Sync was combined with the music. There were five behavioral areas that showed the greatest change with the addition of the binaural beat frequencies: disorganized sensory input, distractibility, motor coordination difficulties, fear of change in vulnerable areas, and benefit to others sharing the Hemi-Sync environment with the child.
The results of this informal study, says Morris, “Show that Hemi-Sync in a musical format can be an effective adjunct to a pre-speech and feeding rehabilitation program. It serves to enhance the effectiveness of a program, which is appropriate to a child’s needs. The fifteen children (75 percent of the group) who made gains in the program had not made similar gains when the program was implemented without the Hemi-Sync background. Significant changes occurred in thirteen of these children within the first two Hemi-Sync sessions.”
Dr. Morris states that a point of reference for a child’s skills and behavior without the Hemi-Sync music background must be established. Therefore, any changes with the addition of the Hemi-Sync can be more significantly interpreted. She found that the effectiveness of Hemi-Sync appeared to be cumulative; children responded more consistently to sessions with Hemi-Sync as their experience with the signals increased. She says, “As the child experienced a more balanced and organized way of dealing with the sensory input for learning it became easier to re-create this new organization when the Hemi-Sync signals were not present. It is significant that major permanent changes were seen in children who experienced Hemi-Sync less than three hours per month. Hemi-Sync contributes to long-term changes in the child’s abilities and ways of organizing information.”50