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The devices are marketed to address a range of problems such as anxiety, sleep issues, "low mood" and learning. However, there is very little published scientific evidence to support these claims. Brooke Roberts, a postdoctoral researcher in Ranganath's lab, obtained a theta wave entrainment device and decided to test it. She had 50 volunteers either use the device for 36 minutes, or listen to 36 minutes of white noise, then do a simple memory test.

The subjects who had used the device showed both improved memory performance and enhanced theta wave activity, she found. Roberts showed her results to Ranganath, who was intrigued but cautious and suggested new controls. They repeated the experiment with another 40 volunteers, but this time the control group received beta wave stimulations.

Beta waves are a different type of brain wave pattern, occurring at about 12 to 30 cycles per second, associated with normal waking consciousness.

Brainwave entrainment: Binaural Beats and Isochronic Tones

Ranganath's lab also conducted a separate study using electrical stimulation to enhance theta waves. However, this actually had the opposite effect, disrupting theta wave activity, and temporarily weakened memory function. There is debate among neuroscientists over the function and role of these brain waves.


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Some researchers argue that they are simply a product of normal brain function with no particular role. Ranganath, however, thinks that they may play a role in coordinating brain regions.

Alpha Waves — 7-13 Hz: Brainwave Entrainment Benefits

Materials provided by University of California - Davis. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


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  4. Science News. Improved memory performance The subjects who had used the device showed both improved memory performance and enhanced theta wave activity, she found. Journal Reference : Brooke M.

    Roberts, Alex Clarke, Richard J. Addante, Charan Ranganath. Entrainment enhances theta oscillations and improves episodic memory. At the end of last year we discussed pzizz , a program that creates nap and sleep soundtracks that we have become addicted to. NP2 is a tool for "brainwave entrainment," a technique described by The Hitchhiker's Guide to, er, sorry. Wikipedia as a "functional brain connectivity concept.

    Alpha Brain Waves - Everything You Need To Know

    But Wikipedia eventually settles down and tells us things we really need to know, such as "Brainwave synchronization entrainment may be achieved when audio signals are introduced to the brain causing a response directly related to the frequency of the signal introduced. So, the basic idea behind NP2 is to create rhythmic sounds that stimulate and entrain specific brainwave patterns, such as alpha rhythm 8Hz to 12Hz , which is associated with being awake but relaxed, and theta 3Hz to 8Hz , which is typical of light sleep or extreme relaxation. NP2 has three types of brain entrainment sound generators: binaural beats, monaural beats and isochronic tones.

    Binaural beats are created by playing a sound in one ear and another with a slightly different frequency in the other ear obviously headphones are de rigueur for this.

    The brain hears the two tones and perceives the difference in the sounds as a lower tone called the beat frequency. The result is that the brain tends to lock its rhythm to the beat frequency, hence brainwave entraining.

    How To Use Binaural Beats To Get The Most Benefits

    For example, if the right ear hears a Hz sound and the left ear hears a Hz sine wave, the brain is entrained at the beat frequency of 10Hz, which can entrain the brain to produce the alpha rhythm and creates a relaxed state of mind. Before anyone writes in to point out that you can't hear below 20Hz, the interference beat is perceived "in" the brain rather than by the ears. With monaural beats the two frequencies are heard together so the beat frequency exists in reality, that is, the beat frequency isn't synthesized by the brain. Monaural beats are more limited in the range of frequencies they can generate that have an effect on the brain.