Brainwave Entrainment: Binaural Beats & Isochronic Tones
What are Brain Waves?
Brain waves are electrical activity patterns caused by the neurons of the brain communicating with each other. Brain waves can be detected using sensitive medical equipment such as an electroencephalogram (EEG) monitor. Brain waves provide an indication of the mental state of an individual. In other words, the appearance of brain waves is directly connected to what a person is doing, thinking or feeling. The different Brain states are: Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta. You have your own unique brain wave patterns that function habitually. Some of these brain wave habits are useful, and others need some fine-tuning. When your brain is functioning efficiently, your brain waves are “in sync” with your activity, but stress or lack of sleep can interfere with this natural harmonious relationship. To restore this harmony, at Gaia Meditation, we have developed a wide range of free audio programs, including meditation music, relaxation music, sleep music and plenty other Sound Healing programs.
Brain states, brainwave frequencies
|Wave||Frequency Range||Associated Mental States||Associated Sleep States||Associated meditation types|
|Gamma||> 40 Hz||Inspiration, Higher Learning, Focus||–||Compassion, Loving Kindness (Buddhist)|
|Beta||13-40 Hz||Alertness, Concentration, Cognition||–||Ecstasy and Intense Concentration|
|Alpha||7-13 Hz||Relaxation, Visualization, Creativity||Pre-sleep or pre-wake drowsiness||Zen and Transcendental|
|Theta||4-7 Hz||Meditation, Intuition, Memory, Hypnosis||Light-sleep (somnolence)||Deep state; Mindfulness, Reprogramming, Self-hypnosis|
|Delta||< 4 Hz||Healing, Sleep, Detached Awareness||Deep-sleep||Deepest state (Yoga Nidra); Healing|
Gamma waves are the fastest of the brainwave frequencies (high frequency band of brainwave activity) which signifies the highest state of focus possible. They are associated with peak concentration and the brain’s optimal frequency for cognitive functioning – the 40 Hz frequency corresponds to a Schumann resonance band and many scientists, including Nobel Laureate Sir Francis Crick believe that it may be the key to the act of cognition. The Gamma state relates to simultaneous processing of information from different brain areas; information passes very rapidly.
The Gamma state relates to expanded consciousness and spiritual emergence. Researchers discovered that Gamma was highly active when in states of universal love, altruism and the “higher virtues”. In particular, high Gamma activity was found during Buddhist meditation of compassion.
Gaia Meditation Gamma programs are specifically designed to: stimulate cognitive functions, help for higher learning and greater focus, improve IQ, expand consciousness and inspiration. The Dalai Lama meditates 4 hours every morning, which must stimulate his Gamma activity in a tremendous way. However, even if you have never practiced meditation, our Gamma waves programs will take you easily and rapidly to the Gamma brain state.
Scientific research findings on Gamma stimulation:
- Enhancement in cognitive functions: improvement in mental processing speed after 6 weeks of Gamma stimulation1:
- Information processing speed and visual motor coordination – improvement in score: 6.9 to 10.6 (+53.6%)
- Freedom from distractibility – improvement in score: 13.2 to 17.5 (+32.6%)
- Visual short-term memory and sequencing ability – improvement in score: 6.0 to 8.2 (+36.7%)
- Arithmetic/number ability and short-term memory – improvement in score: 6.2 to 8.3 (+33.9%)
- Reduction in frequency of migraines after 30 days of Gamma photic stimulation: 53% of subjects* reported decreased migraine frequency (32% “much less” and 21% “somewhat less”)2
* subjects whose headaches were usually preceded by warning signs
1 Olmstead R. Use of auditory and visual stimulation to improve cognitive abilities in learning-disabled children. J Neurother. 2005;9(2):49-61.
2 Noton D. Migraine and photic stimulation: report on a survey of migraineurs using flickering light therapy. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 2000;6(3):138-142.
What is Brainwave Entrainment?
At Gaia Meditation, we use the technology of Brainwave Entrainment in our audio programs (relaxation music, sleep music, meditation music…) to help you coordinate your brain waves according to your desired objectives.
Brainwave entrainment is a method which utilizes frequencies of the brain in order to bring about specific desired thoughts and behavior. In other words, brainwave entrainment is used to induce different brainwave states related to: enhanced focus, relaxation, sleep induction, meditation, etc. With the help of a specific stimulus, aural (audio), photic (visual) or the combination of the two, we naturally induce the brain to respond by synchronizing with the stimulus frequency; this is called the “frequency following response”. The assumption is that the human brain has a tendency to change its dominant Electroencephalography frequency (recording of electrical activity along the scalp) towards the frequency of a dominant external stimulus. This is why we also talk about “brainwave synchronization”.
At Gaia Meditation, we favor aural stimuli with the utilization of specific frequencies embedded in audio tracks.
Entrainment is a principle of physics which appears in biology, chemistry, neurology, medicine, astronomy etc. It is defined as the synchronization of two or more rhythmic cycles. In the seventeenth century, Dutch scientist Christian Huygens found out that by placing two unsynchronized clocks side by side on a wall, they would slowly synchronize to each other in a very accurate way. The clocks were the first example of spontaneous synchronization, a phenomenon found throughout nature from cells to the Solar System.
A potential and generally desired result of brainwave entrainment is hemispheric synchronization. It refers to a state when the brainwave pattern of the right and left hemispheres become alike. It is said that a person with similar activity in both hemispheres tend to be happier, more optimistic and more emotionally stable and less prone to mental illness. Studies found that increased levels of synchronization are found naturally in people who meditate regularly and people who are very happy with their lives in general.
Brainwave entrainment effectively pushes the entire brain into a certain state. It is a great way to lead your mind into states that you might usually have difficulty reaching, allowing you to experience what those states feel like.
At Gaia Meditation, most of audio programs including free relaxation music, free sleep music, free meditation music etc. use the technology of brainwave entrainment (or “brainwave synchronization”) with powerful binaural beats and isochronic tones. Our audio tracks utilize pure and precisely tuned sound frequencies which will drive your brain activity (consciousness) into your desired state: Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta or Delta.
Binaural beats, or binaural tones, are auditory processing artifacts (apparent sounds) resulting from the stimulation of the ears with two different sound frequencies. In fact, when two different vibrations are delivered to the brain separately through each ear, using stereo headphones, the two hemispheres of the brain function together to “hear” and perceive not the external sound signals, but a third phantom signal. This resulting signal, discovered in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove, is called “binaural beat”. The effect on the brain waves depends on the difference of each tone. For example, if a sound frequency of 300 Hz is played in the left ear and 307 Hz in the right one, then the binaural beat would have a frequency of 7 Hz (“frequency following response”) which corresponds to the Alpha brain state, generally associated with relaxation, visualization and creativity. The beating tone is perceived as if the two tones mixed naturally, out of the brain. For the binaural beat effect to occur, the difference between the two frequencies must be small (less than or equal to 30 Hz), otherwise, the two tones will be heard separately, and no beat will be perceived.
Research shows that binaural beats can literally drive brain activity into specific brain states (Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta or Delta). Without any effort and naturally, you would have your brain activity to synchronize with the binaural beat; it will become organized and coherent, and eventually, the left and right hemispheres of your brain will start to be balanced creating a very unique state called “hemispheric synchronization” (equal frequency and amplitude of the wave forms in both hemispheres). This extraordinary brain state is very powerful and normally unattainable without this kind of stimulation. Through the entrainment of brain waves, binaural beats can influence the brain in a very subtle way, inducing states of relaxation, sleep, meditation, creativity…
Comparison between binaural beats and isochronic tones
|Binaural beats||Isochronic Tones|
Discovered in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove
Newer brainwave entrainment technology
Two different tones delivered separately in each ear
Separate pulses of a single tone
Lower entrainment effect? (Thalamus not stimulated)
Stronger entrainment effect? (Thalamus stimulated)
More effective in lower frequency zones (Alpha, Theta, Delta) -> good for hypnotic & relaxing effect, meditation…
More effective in higher frequency zones (Gamma, Beta) -> good for memory training and IQ improvement
No headphones required but recommended