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Binaural Beats – An Overview

Binaural beats are of interest to neurophysiologists investigating the sense of hearing. Second, binaural beats reportedly influence the brain in more subtle ways through the entrainment of brainwaves and can be used to produce relaxation, natural altered states of consciousness similar to what is experienced during meditation, and other health benefits such as pain relief.

Binaural beats are auditory brainstem responses originating in the superior olivary nucleus as a result of different frequency auditory stimuli provided to each ear. Listeners to binaural beats “hear” a beat at a frequency equal to the difference between the frequencies of the applied tones. Thus, the effect on the brainwaves depends on the difference in frequencies of each tone, for example, if 300 Hz is played in one ear and 310 in the other, then the binaural beat would have a frequency of 10 Hz.

Frequency range


Usually associated with:

13–39 Hz

Beta waves Active, busy, or anxious thinking; active concentration, arousal, cognition, and paranoia. Beta activity is closely linked to motor behavior and is generally attenuated during active movements. Low amplitude beta with multiple and varying frequencies is often associated with active, busy or anxious thinking and active concentration. Rhythmic beta with a dominant set of frequencies is associated with various pathologies and drug effects, especially benzodiazapines.

7–13 Hz

Alpha waves Relaxation (while awake), pre-sleep and pre-wake drowsiness, REM sleep, dreams. Alpha emerges with closing of the eyes and with relaxation. It attenuates with eye opening or mental exertion.

4–7 Hz

Theta waves Deep meditation, relaxation, NREM sleep. Theta is seen normally in young children. It may be seen in drowsiness or arousal in older children and adults; it can also be seen in meditation.

< 4 Hz

Delta waves Deep dreamless sleep, loss of body awareness. Delta tends to be the highest in amplitude and the slowest waves. It is seen normally in adults in slow wave sleep. It is also seen normally in babies.

A Brief History

Heinrich Wilhelm Dove discovered binaural beats in 1839. While research about them continued after that, the subject remained somewhat of a scientific curiosity until 134 years later, with the publishing of Gerald Oster’s article “Auditory Beats in the Brain” (Scientific American, 1973). Oster’s article identified and assembled the scattered islands of relevant research since Dove, offering tremendous fresh insight (and new laboratory findings) to research on binaural beats.

In particular, Oster saw binaural beats as a powerful tool for cognitive and neurological research, addressing questions such as how animals locate sounds in their three-dimensional environment, and also the remarkable ability of animals to pick out and focus on specific sounds in a sea of noise (what is known as the “cocktail party effect”).

Oster also considered binaural beats to be a potentially useful medical diagnostic tool, not merely for finding and assessing auditory impairments, but also for more general neurological conditions. (Binaural beats involve different neurological pathways than ordinary auditory processing.) For example, Oster found that a number of his subjects that could not perceive binaural beats suffered from Parkinson’s disease. In one particular case, Oster was able to follow the subject through a week-long treatment of Parkinson’s disease; at the outset the patient could not perceive binaural beats; but by the end of the week of treatment, the patient was able to hear them.

The effects of binaural beats on consciousness were first examined by physicist Thomas Campbell and electrical engineer Dennis Mennerich, who under the direction of Robert Monroe sought to reproduce a subjective impression of 4Hz oscillation that they associated with out-of-body experience. On the strength of their findings, Monroe spawned the binaural self-development industry by forming The Monroe Institute, now a charitable binaural research and education organization.

Do You Want to Give Binaural Beats a Try? Then Check Out the NeuroSoup SEEDDS (Shamanic Electronic Entheogenic Digital Downloads for the Soul) Program

SEEDDS combine binaural beats and isochronic tones in order to induce natural altered states of consciousness similar to what is experienced during meditation. Beginning, intermediate, and advanced SEEDDS are available for download in the NeuroSoup Member’s Area. As well, SEEDDS Enhancers are provided so listeners can attain the most transcendental experience.

SEEDDS Enhancers help the listener incorporate other forms of spirituality and natural consciousness alteration into his/her life in addition to SEEDDS. Suggested enhancers are provided along with each of the SEEDDS. Learn How To Become a Member and Get Instant Access to All the SEEDDS


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