Binaural sounds: how they affect the brain

Binaural sounds are believed to have multiple effects on the brain. Today we present you some according to scientists.

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Elena Sanz on November 19, 2021.

Last update: November 19, 2021

Binaural sounds, also known as binaural beats or binaural beats, They are an illusion of the brain when perceiving a certain frequency of sounds. They are created when you hear a tone in each ear that is differentiated by a frequency of maximum 35 Hertz (Hz). Doing so creates an illusion of a third frequency called binaural sound.

For example, a binaural illusion is created when you hear a tone in your left ear at 400 Hz and another in your right ear at 420 Hz. The brain will automatically create a third perceptual rhythm of 20 Hz to compensate. There has been a lot of speculation about the benefits of binaural sounds, and some scientists have pointed to a couple of effects. Today we present you the most important ones.

7 effects of binaural sounds on the brain

Before continuing, you have to take into account something: there is no 100% conclusive evidence on the effects of binaural sounds on the brain. There are studies for and against the hypotheses, so there is still much to study in this regard. Still, we highlight 7 possible benefits of binaural sounds.

1. They stimulate creativity

A study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in 2013 he investigated the impact of binaural beats on creativity. It found that after exposure to this perceptual illusion, participants scored better on tests of divergent thinking.

Divergent thinking, sometimes known as lateral thinking, is one that explores ideas parallel to the central one in solving a problem. In general, this type of thinking is related to creativity. Another study published in 2016 in the journal Frontiers in Psychology indicated that high-frequency binaural sounds can increase cognitive flexibility.

2. Reduce the perception of pain

Although there is still much to learn about it, it is possible that binaural sounds have a lot to do with regulating pain perception.

A study published in European Journal of Pain in 2020 explored the influence of binaural sounds in reducing chronic pain in a group of patients. The results obtained suggest a decrease in the subjective perception of pain, which in turn reduced the dependence on analgesics to treat chronic pain.

During the sessions, the participants reported a decrease in stress, which would contribute to attenuate the episodes of pain. Both effects have been evidenced by other studies, which also highlight its effects to reduce anxiety levels.

3. Improve memory acuity

An investigation published in Studia Psychologica in 2015 suggests possible effects on working memory capacity after binaural pulse sessions. Participants reported greater acuity in this field after undergoing 12 minutes of stimulation at a frequency of 9.55 Hz.

Working memory, also known as operating memory, is the one that is in charge of processing temporary information. It has incidents in the day-to-day, from the steps to make purchases to the development of several activities at the same time and in the decision-making process. A study published two years later, in 2017, corroborates these findings.

4. They can induce sleep

This is assured by at least one research published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in 2019. It is not the only endorsement in this regard, since the effects of binaural sounds on sleep cycles are perhaps the best known benefit.

This could be an alternative for all those who suffer from sleep disorders. Naturally, this would have multiple repercussions in the lives of these patients, so it is an open option when effective therapies are not found. The study reported that the 6 Hz frequency used in the experiment also increases positive emotions in users.

5. They alter moods

Regarding the previous statement, there are also some indications that binaural sounds could have an effect on mood control. Wahbeh and his colleagues have found in studies and research a possible incidence of binaural beats on subjective perception of mood.

Their findings point to a decreased tension, anxiety, stress, confusion, and depression. On the contrary, the participants reported an increase in the quality of life and the assimilation of emotions associated with well-being. The type of frequency and time of exposure can alter the results obtained for these effects.

6. Reduce mental fatigue

These sounds also have a certain relationship with the psychological field. Mental fatigue may be reduced with continued exposure.

This is what research published in Journal of Cognitive Enhancement in 2020. Experts tested the combination of binaural sounds and mindfulness practices to reduce mental fatigue. The results indicated that the combinatorial group performed better than the control group and those who tested the alternatives in isolation.

It is known as mental fatigue to the psychological, emotional and physical effects after doing strenuous activity (studying and working, for example). It can generate sequelae such as insomnia, headaches, muscle aches and lack of concentration. These findings can have positive repercussions for those who experience all of these symptoms frequently.

7. Improve attention

A pilot study published in Journal of Pediatric Nursing in 2010 suggests that exposure to binaural frequencies may have a positive effect on improving attention. The research was applied to patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder for a total of 3 weeks.

Both the participants and their parents reported an improvement in the care processes while the study was maintained, so that this could have repercussions in those diagnosed with the disorder. It is a very easy to use modality that can be implemented in the long term without major problems.

Although we have substantiated the effects of this auditory perception, keep in mind that there is an equal number of investigations that question its repercussions. Even so, there is no current evidence that binaural sounds are harmful to health or create cognitively impaired states.

It is still an open field for research and the findings can benefit millions of patients around the world. Consult a specialist about this therapy in case you want to use it as an alternative treatment for some of the cases presented today.

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