I recently read an article which caught my eye, an idea which seemed fascinating and bizarre at the same time. The idea in basic layman’s terms is that:
The brain naturally functions using a variety of frequencies (Hz): Alpha, Beta, Theta, Delta, and Gamma; and these frequencies generate certain moods. So if you can control your brain’s frequencies, you can control your moods. And the tools used to control the brain’s frequencies (moods) are called Binaural Beats.
So, you plug in your earphones, switch on your mp3 player, play the frequency beats, and create the required mood. The frequencies are …
Beta brain waves, which are associated with normal waking consciousness and a heightened state of alertness, logic and critical reasoning.
Alpha brain waves which are present in deep relaxation and usually when the eyes are closed, when you’re slipping into a lovely daydream or during light meditation.
Theta brain waves which are present during deep meditation and light sleep, including the all-important REM dream state.
The Delta frequency which is the slowest of the frequencies and is experienced in deep, dreamless sleep.
So this is based on the first premise that the brain works with frequencies and that these frequencies produce moods. It is also based on a second premise that one can listen to audio frequencies, and that the brain will follow these frequencies thus producing certain moods.
There are scientific studies underpinning these ideas.
In the medical journey Anaesthesia (1) it cites that binaural beats were first described by Oster  over 30 years ago: “They are produced within the brain in response to two similar pure tones being presented separately to each ear. The rhythm of the binaural beat equals the difference between the two tones and, if sustained, this rhythm can be entrained throughout the brain. The frequency of the binaural beat can thus be selected to produce particular EEG-associated states.”
It goes on further to state that,
“Inducing brain-wave states with binaural beats has been used to decrease anxiety in patients suffering from chronic anxiety … 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.
This team of researchers measured anxiety in pre-operative patients using binaural beat audio (Binaural Group), then with an identical soundtrack but without these added tones (Audio Group), and finally with a third group who received no specific intervention (No Intervention Group).
After approval from the Local Research Ethics Committee, the study was conducted over a 6-month period (October 2003 to March 2004). This prospective, randomised, controlled study recruited 108 patients scheduled to undergo general anaesthesia for elective surgery at the Day Surgery Unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Decreases in anxiety scores were:
Binaural Group: 26.3% decrease in anxiety
Audio: 11.1% decrease in anxiety
No Intervention Group: 3.8% decrease in anxiety
The conclusion drawn from this study was that binaural beat audio has the potential to decrease acute pre-operative anxiety significantly.
If you are interested in learning how to get in tune with your brain waves and be able to consciously activate them, a quick google search on ‘binaural beats’ should throw up a gamut of possibilities to explore.
So now you may be wondering if I have tried any of these beats? The answer is yes. And did I notice any differences? The answer is no. But that doesn’t mean it will be a no for you!
Anathesia, ): Volume 60, Issue 9, pages 874–877, September 2005
Padmanabhan, R., Hildreth, A. J. and Laws, D. (2005), A prospective, randomised, controlled study examining binaural beat audio and pre-operative anxiety in patients undergoing general anaesthesia for day case surgery. Anaesthesia, 60: 874–877. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2044.2005.04287.x