Basically, bilateral beats are when you listen to beats of two slightly different frequencies at the same time- therefore, it is only actually effective if you are listening with devices like headphones and earphones. Usually combined with Isochronic tones- which is the beat that’s like a rhythmic pulse used for brain wave entrainment.
The idea is that when your brain hears the tones it begins to align its own brain waves to a new frequency. Meaning we can retrain our brain to different mental states which is pretty wild.
The 5 types of Brain Waves involved in Bilateral Beats
- DELTA – 1-4 Hz: This is the lowest frequency and is commonly associated with states like: deep sleep, pain relief, meditation, access to unconscious mind, and anti-aging in the sense of helping with cortisol reduction/DHEA increase (Cortisol reduction is particularly interesting to me due to having fibro. Due to our actual lack of good delta sleep we can have high cortisol)
- THETA- 4-8 Hz: For meditation, creativity, anxiety reduction, and deep relaxation. (Personally I have found this frequency very pleasant for assisting me with meditation.)
- ALPHA- 8-14 Hz: This is well-known for being the most focused and productive state of mind to be in. So it helps us with: staying relaxed and focused, it can reduce our stress, help us maintain positive thinking, increase our learning capacity, get in that ‘flow’ state. Also associated with anxiety reduction.
- BETA- 14-30 Hz: This higher frequency state helps with: keeping attention and focus, our analytical thinking and problem solving, our high-level cognition, with stimulation energy and action. Improved long-term memory.
- GAMMA- 30-100 Hz: above beta fequency and the benifits can be; more increaseed cognition enhancement, attention to detail, better memory recall, alternative ways of thinking (a sign of creative thinking)
I have not really explored the higher frequencies and that is because with pain and lack of sleep my needs are focused on the need to relax more and to meditate better and prepare my brain for sleep. But I do intend to give them a go as well.
Mostly I am using this as a meditation tool. I am not sure about the theory behind bilateral beats. If it works, that is pretty cool. But even if it doesn’t if the sound helps me focus and relax to meditate better and relax I am also fine with that. And I find in that Theta range it is really helping me get into a meditation vibe. So I dig it. I equate it to sound biofeedback and, in that sense, it seems viable to me.
This is the best site I found for being able to control what you are doing:
You can find bilateral beat YouTube videos all over the place. However, since I have no idea how those beats were designed I couldn’t say much about them. It seemed best to try a website that allowed playing around with the beats so you can actually tell exactly what you are doing.
Apps to try:
- Healing Sounds
- Binaural Beats Therapy
- Real Binaural
- Atmosphere (this one has a whole lot of sound options a person may like in addition to its bilateral beats section)
The benefit you may enjoy with these is the soothing background noise. If you find a quality one. What is not a perk is the ad interruption.
- Super Intelligence: Memory Music, Improve Focus and Concentration with BInaural Beats Focus Music
- Happiness Frequency: Serotonin, Dopamine, Endorphin Release Music, Binaural Beats Meditation Music
- Productivity Music: Deep Focus Music with Binaural Beats – Study Music
Potential side effects and cautions of Bilateral Beats
- It can increase depression in some people
- Actually, because it is altering brain states it can also create brief mood fluctuations (anger, anxiety, confusion)
- Of course, since you are using headphones you have to consider the volume- always keep it within reason. And with bilateral beats it only has to be within hearing to work anyway.
- People with epilepsy/seizures should Not use bilateral beats since it can increase the probability of having a seizure.
- You should not use them if you have a heart condition or use a pacemaker.
- It isn’t recommended to use them without medical observation if you have a mental health disorder (as stated above it can, for example, alter depression).
- If you’re under the age of 18- simply because of the fact a child’s brain is under rapid changes and development. Not a good idea to be mucking about with that.
- If you’re pregnant because they can stimulate labor.
- And obviously if you are driving or operating heavy machinery. (Because it can cause states of relaxation and so forth)
- Always use in moderation (maybe once or twice a day). If it stimulates a headache then less so… and I mention this specifically for my migraine peeps because I make sure to be careful about the time I spend using bilateral beats and the volume at which I use them- because this is something you will find can trigger a migraine or at the very least a headache if you over stimulate your hearing.
There is research on bilateral beats. It is all over the board though. But all of it is pretty intriguing. I pulled just a little if you want to check some out:
- The effect of binaural beats on verbal working memory and cortical connectivity– suggests working memory improvements
- Tracking EEG changes in response to alpha and beta binaural beats– this study suggests no evidence that there is any changes in EEG to beta and alpha bilateral beats but other study may suggest otherwise
- Analysis of EEG activity in response to binaural beats with different frequencies Our observation supports the hypothesis that BBs could affect functional brain connectivity
- Tinntrain: A multifactorial treatment for tinnitus using binaural beats
- Schwarz DW, Taylor P: Human auditory steady state responses to binaural and monaural beats. Clin Neurophysiol 2005;116(3):658–668.
- Understanding the neurological mechanism involved in enhanced memory recall task following binaural beat: a pilot study– what is interesting about this recent pilot study is that it is on elderly patients with neurological conditions. So this is an area that will be interesting if it yields results.
- Are Binaural Beats Effective at Reducing Anxiety in Patients Undergoing Medical Intervention? All three studies demonstrated that binaural beats are a beneficial and effective treatment to reduce preoperative anxiety. And there is more than one study on the benefits for anxiety.
- Influence of beta and theta binaural beat stimulation on episodic memory: an EEG study In conclusion, this study proves that binaural beats are neuronal modulators, with involvement of dynamic responses. This modulating effect on brain activity may be the reason behind the influence of these beats on episodic memory.
But there is also research saying ‘yeah, not so much’. And so maybe we are looking at the placebo effect. But if you have ever looked into the placebo effect… it is pretty cool itself- and I am all cool with my brain tricking itself.