Hemi-Syncing with Binaural Beats:

Many people enjoy combined sound-light shows in clubs, stadiums and meditation centres throughout the World. There is no doubt that sound and light can have remarkable impact upon us. Many years ago, I bought a 'Mindlab' sound-light machine because I hoped that there was someone else who had put things together and could further enhance whatever it was I was 'onto' with sound frequencies. I even started promoting these machines from my website at that time.

Since the internet came along, it has made seeking out information about hemi-syncing and binaural beats relatively easy to track down.

The pseudo-oscillations experienced during the practice of Hemi-syncing, the notion of synchronising the two hemispheres of the brain by using 'binaural' beats are claimed to have various impact upon us. These are in fact not beats at all but are simple, pure sine waves (usually set below 1000Hz so that the waves can encircle the head), played into each ear via headphones at slightly different frequencies to each other. The difference between the tones is experienced as (illusory) 'beating' or oscillating in and out of phase against each other. The greater the difference between the two tones, the slower the resulting oscillation. This is not 'heard' but interpretted within the cerebral cortex.

For example, if a sine wave of, say, 300Hz is played in one ear and a wave of 308Hz is played in the other, the brain (stem) attempts to bring the minute difference (8Hz) back together. The 8Hz is experienced even though it is not really there as a sound in its own right. The effect of this attempt at synchronisation is claimed to cause our brainwaves to entrain themselves to the pulse, and this can help induce altered states of consciousness, as well as to improve general brain activity and increase spatial dexterity.

Brain waves, the fluctuations of current in the brain as measured at the scalp by an electroencephalogram, can range from near zero up to about 100 Hz during normal activity, with a typical reading near the lower end of the scale. Whether or not you are aware of the specific frequencies of the various human brain waves, you may (or may not) be aware that the frequency of human alpha waves have a spread from around 7 Hz to around 14 Hz (depending on who is doing the measuring), surrounded by Theta waves before 7 Hz and Beta waves after 14 Hz. However, as this spread of Alpha-Theta waves, responsible for creativity, performance, the immune system and stress, just happens to include 7.83 Hz, it has been specifically identified as, not merely similar to but identical to the earth's natural resonance (Schumann Resonance 7.83 Hz). It is as if this human frequency has somehow become entrained to that of the earth.

Due to this notable correlation, a most pervasive popular fiction surrounding the Schumann resonance is that it is correlated with the health of the human body. There are a huge number of products and services sold to enhance sports performance, health or mood, that cite the Schumann resonance as the foundational pseudoscience. A notable example is the Power Balance bracelets - jewellery so loved by superstitious high profile sport stars (which has only served to increase their credibility). Tom O'Dowd, formerly the Australian distributor, said that the mylar hologram resonated at 7.83 Hz and claimed that when the bracelet was placed within the body's natural energy field, the resonance would "reset" your energy field to that frequency. There were a number of problems with that claim. First of all, 7.83 Hz has a wavelength of about 38,000 kilometers. This is about the circumference of the Earth, which is why its atmospheric cavity resonates at that frequency. 38,000 kilometers is a bit bigger than a 1 or 2cm hologram; there's no way that something that tiny could resonate such an enormous wavelength. Secondly, even if it were possible, would not the body be more likely to alter the tiny hologram and not the other way around? O'Dowd's sales pitch was implausible, by a factor of billions, to anyone who understood resonance. This same fact also applies to the human body. Human beings are so small, relative to a radio wavelength of 38,000 kilometers, that there's no way our anatomy could detect or interact with such a radio signal in any way.

Many other marketers claim other techniques to change your brain's encephalogram, which they say is a beneficial thing to do. One such method is brain hemisphere synchronising or entraining via use of binaural beats (two slightly offset frequencies that produce a 'phantom' beat frequency that is perceived as a result of the interference between the two), and/or a complex pattern of binaural beats and isochronic tone frequencies, dedicated to help one achieve good sleep or to have creative, lucid dreams. But herein lies a critical difference. An audio recording is audio, not radio. It is the physical oscillation of air molecules, not the propagation of electromagnetic waves. Despite the coincidental similarity in frequencies, the two have virtually nothing to do with each other. Audio waves do not affect radio waves and vice versa. Therefore, by no science that is currently understood would we expect an audio tone to cause a brain's activity to change its frequency to match. Neither Schumann resonances, electromagnetic radiation, or the Earth's ionosphere are mentioned in any medical or anatomical textbooks. There is no detectable or theoretically predicted relationship between either ELF radio or the number 7.83 and the health of human body.

We commonly find that New Age beliefs are often based more on what feels emotionally satisfying than on sound science, but this is where the science definitely has not been able to offer answers for the very real experience I had in the 1980s at a Mind-Body-Spirit festival in Birmingham (the telling of which appears elsewhere). I have definitely experienced very immediately apparent phenomena when using binaural beats!

Frequency range ------ State of mind
Beta: 14Hz - 30Hz --- Highly alert and focused
Alpha: 8Hz - 14Hz ---- Relaxed but alert
Theta: 4Hz - 8Hz ----- Drowsiness (also first stage of sleep)
Delta: 0.5Hz - 4Hz ---- Deep sleep

Everything in the universe vibrates, our DNA and the chemicals rushing around our bodies are no exception, and so there are many claims for the benefits of tuning our brainwaves to the various frequencies using hemi-syncing; from invigoration to sleep, from speed learning to lucid dreaming, chakra balance and OOBE, increased mediation to clairvoyance, pain relief to improved mental health, endorphin production and drug simulation, improved orgasm...the list of claims goes on and on and on.

There are many places trying to sell you (expensive) CDs with 'just the right frequency' to 'tune' you to anything you desire. Want another frequency?...buy another CD! These frequencies are often jealously guarded, but here are a few of the many:

Headaches: 10.0Hz and 5.0Hz
Attention focus: white plus 20.0Hz
Att. foc. from drowsy: +12.0Hz
Creativity: 6.8Hz +6.5Hz + 9.0Hz....motion to 13Hz
Learning aid: 6.0Hz
Meditation (basic): 7.0Hz
Med. (deep): 11.8Hz + 13.0Hz
Schumann Res: 7.8Hz
Self Hyp: 11.9Hz beat
S. hyp. complex 11.9/7.0/13.0/10.0Hz
sleep: 12.0Hz reducing
awakened mind: 15.0Hz/10.0/7.0/2.0Hz
Mental refresh: 17.0Hz reducing

Whilst I am NOT going to try to substantiate any of these claims, from my perspective of 'dabbling' with sound frequencies for many years, I will say that the effects can often be very 'interesting'. If you are curious enough to want to give it a try, here is a link to 'BrainWave Generator', a programmable little program that you can install on your computer to give the concept a try. Alternatively, try: http://gnaural.sourceforge.net/download/ for an open source gernerator. You no longer need to buy an expensive Mindlab (or similar). To experience true binaural beats, you MUST use headphones. It is quite old and works with Win XP. I don't know if it works in Win 7/8, but you can try.

You don't have to have it on loud and you are encouraged to mix it in low with music. Work out how to get the flashing screen. This simulates the goggles of Mindlab (but of course is not for each eye). Don't look AT the screen, but beyond it and you MAY see different colours flashing (that you know are not programmed in to that setting), or you may even see pictures/movies develop. What have you got to lose...except your sanity? Click here and goto 'download'. For your own peace of mind: Please DO completely satisfy yourself that you virus check the program.

If you just want to hear the beating effect, simply load the following page into two browser windows; keep one sound fixed and move the frequency in the second window for instant effect in real time: Sin Generator.

Click here for a broader introduction to frequencies....