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Scholarly & Peer Reviewed Research

Brainwave Activity (EEG) & Frequency Following Response

Becher, A., Höhne, M., Axmacher, N., Chaieb, L., Elger, C. E., & Fell, J. (2015). Intracranial electroencephalography power and phase synchronization changes during monaural and binaural beat stimulation. European Journal Of Neuroscience, 41(2), 254-263.

ABSTRACT: Auditory stimulation with monaural or binaural auditory beats (i.e. sine waves with nearby frequencies presented either to both ears or to each ear separately) represents a non-invasive approach to influence electrical brain activity. It is still unclear exactly which brain sites are affected by beat stimulation. In particular, an impact of beat stimulation on mediotemporal brain areas could possibly provide new options for memory enhancement or seizure control. Therefore, we examined how electroencephalography (EEG) power and phase synchronization are modulated by auditory stimulation with beat frequencies corresponding to dominant EEG rhythms based on intracranial recordings in presurgical epilepsy patients. Monaural and binaural beat stimuli with beat frequencies of 5, 10, 40 and 80 Hz and non-superposed control signals were administered with low amplitudes (60 dB SPL) and for short durations (5 s). EEG power was intracranially recorded from mediotemporal, temporo-basal and temporo-lateral and surface sites. Evoked and total EEG power and phase synchronization during beat vs. control stimulation were compared by the use of Bonferroni-corrected non-parametric label-permutation tests. We found that power and phase synchronization were significantly modulated by beat stimulation not only at temporo-basal, temporo-lateral and surface sites, but also at mediotemporal sites. Generally, more significant decreases than increases were observed. The most prominent power increases were seen after stimulation with monaural 40-Hz beats. The most pronounced power and synchronization decreases resulted from stimulation with monaural 5-Hz and binaural 80-Hz beats. Our results suggest that beat stimulation offers a non-invasive approach for the modulation of intracranial EEG characteristics.

Cruceanu, V. D., & Rotarescu, V. S. (2013). Alpha Brainwave Entrainment As A Cognitive Performance Activator. Cognitie, Creier, Comportament/Cognition, Brain, Behavior, 17(3), 249-261.

ABSTRACT: This research investigates the brainwave entrainment process and aims to demonstrate the usefulness of such an approach within the framework of cognitive performance improvements. In the introductory part the theories regarding the neurophysiological structure and the psychological processing of the cognitive system are discussed, for each of their components that are considered to be relevant for this research. The hypothesis states that the stimulation with binaural beats and stroboscopic light, synchronized at 10.2 Hz frequency, will produce a positive change in cognition. The research variables are the cognitive performance (the dependent variable) and the brainwave entrainment (the independent variable). The brainwave entrainment program consists in the synchronized application of Alpha binaural beats and stroboscopic light, at a 10.2 Hz frequency, in a 30 minutes long session. The difference was made by the stroop effect based exercise that was used as a frame. There were 60 participants, divided into two independent samples. The two independent samples I test for the means differences was used in the statistical analysis. The obtained results by evaluations and by statistics confirmed this research’s hypothesis, stating that the stimulation with binaural beats and stroboscopic light, synchronized at 10.2 Hz frequency, will produce a positive change in cognition.

Goodin, P., Ciorciari, J., Baker, K., Carrey, A., Harper, M., & Kaufman, J. (2012). A High-Density EEG Investigation into Steady State Binaural Beat Stimulation. Plos ONE, 7(4), 1-8. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034789

ABSTRACT: Binaural beats are an auditory phenomenon that has been suggested to alter physiological and cognitive processes including vigilance and brainwave entrainment. Some personality traits measured by the NEO Five Factor Model have been found to alter entrainment using pulsing light stimuli, but as yet no studies have examined if this occurs using steady state presentation of binaural beats for a relatively short presentation of two minutes. This study aimed to examine if binaural beat stimulation altered vigilance or cortical frequencies and if personality traits were involved. Thirty-one participants were played binaural beat stimuli designed to elicit a response at either the Theta (7 Hz) or Beta (16 Hz) frequency bands while undertaking a zero-back vigilance task. EEG was recorded from a high-density electrode cap. No significant differences were found in vigilance or cortical frequency power during binaural beat stimulation compared to a white noise control period. Furthermore, no significant relationships were detected between the above and the Big Five personality traits. This suggests a short presentation of steady state binaural beats are not sufficient to alter vigilance or entrain cortical frequencies at the two bands examined and that certain personality traits were not more susceptible than others.

Kasprzak, C. (2011). Influence of Binaural Beats on EEG Signal. Acta Physica Polonica, A, 119(6A), 986-990.

ABSTRACT: Binaural beats are subjective hearing sensations, which occur when one of tone signals is applied to one ear, and the other one, with a slightly different frequency is applied to the second ear. A listener then receives a resultant sound with an amplitude which changes with a frequency equal to the difference of frequency of applied signals. The aim of this thesis was to examine the influence of binaural beats on changes in the morphology of the brain bioelectrical signal. Verification of previous studies, such as stimulation of binaural beats affects the brain and can cause changes in other frequency bands. Previous studies have been conducted on individual leads and dealt with the occurrence of follow up effect. In the research there were used binaural beats with a frequency of f = 10 Hz. The left ear was exposed to a signal with a frequency of 100 Hz, and the right ear — to a signal with a frequency of 110 Hz, the acoustic pressure level SPL = 73 dB. The research was conducted on a sample group of 20 people. The analysis of average amplitudes of spectral density function of EEG strength signal proved that the exposition of binaural beats brought about a follow-up effect, which means that a component frequency in the EEG signal morphology was observed which corresponds with a frequency of the exposed binaural beats. It was also noted that during the exposition of binaural beats, there occurs a statistically significant decrease of average amplitudes of spectral density function of EEG strength signal for alpha and beta frequency ranges. However, it was observed that the amplitude of spectral density function of the strength has increased in theta frequency range.

Lavallee, C. F., Koren, S. A., & Persinger, M. A. (2011). A Quantitative Electroencephalographic Study of Meditation and Binaural Beat Entrainment. Journal Of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 17(4), 351-355. doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0691

Objectives: The study objective was to determine the quantitative electroencephalographic correlates of meditation, as well as the effects of hindering (15 Hz) and facilitative (7 Hz) binaural beats on the meditative process.
Design: The study was a mixed design, with experience of the subject as the primary between-subject measure and power of the six classic frequency bands (d, y, low a, high a, b, g), neocortical lobe (frontal, temporal, parietal, occipital), hemisphere (left, right), and condition (meditation only, meditation with 7-Hz beats, meditation with 15-Hz beats) as the within-subject measures.
Location: The study was conducted at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.
Subjects: The subjects comprised novice (mean of 8 months experience) and experienced (mean of 18 years experience) meditators recruited from local meditation groups.
Intervention: Experimental manipulation included application of hindering and facilitative binaural beats to the meditative process.
Results: Experienced meditators displayed increased left temporal lobe d power when the facilitative binaural beats were applied, whereas the effect was not observed for the novice subjects in this condition. When the hindering binaural beats were introduced, the novice subjects consistently displayed more g power than the experienced subjects over the course of their meditation, relative to baseline.
Conclusions: Based on the results of this study, novice meditators were not able to maintain certain levels of y power in the occipital regions when hindering binaural beats were presented, whereas when the facilitative binaural beats were presented, the experienced meditators displayed increased y power in the left temporal lobe. These results suggest that the experienced meditators have developed techniques over the course of their meditation practice to counter hindering environmental stimuli, whereas the novice meditators have not yet developed those techniques.


Sleep & Insomnia

Alexandru, B. V., Róbert, B., Viorel, L., & Vasile, B. (2009). Treating Primary Insomnia: A Comparative Study of Self-Help Methods And Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Journal Of Cognitive & Behavioral Psychotherapies, 9(1), 67-82.

ABSTRACT: Insomnia is one of the most prevalent psychological disorders worldwide. Some of the deficiencies of the current treatments of insomnia are: side effects in the case of sleeping pills and high costs in the case of psychotherapeutic treatment. Some suggest that self-help treatments could be a viable alternative, with certain advantages such as low cost, and wide accessibility to a large number of people. In our study we used a modified Latin square experimental design for single subject research to verify the effect of multi-component treatment efficiency in primary insomnia. Another goal of our study was to compare the effects of the three treatment techniques (progressive muscle relaxation, sleep hygiene, binaural beats) included in the multi-component intervention package. Our results reflect the efficiency of the multi-component treatment. Significant differences were found only between muscle relaxation and binaural beat. Based on effects size measures we can say that muscle relaxation and sleep hygiene have a very similar effect. The effect of binaural beat treatment is lower than that of the other two types of intervention.



Le Scouarnec, R. P., Poirier, R. M., Owens, J. E., Gauthier, J., Taylor, A. G., & Foresman, P. A. (2001). Use of binaural beat tapes for treatment of anxiety: a pilot study of tape preference and outcomes. Alternative Therapies In Health And Medicine, 7(1), 58-63.

Context: Recent studies and anecdotal reports suggest that binaural auditory beats can affect mood, performance on vigilance tasks, and anxiety.
Objective: To determine whether mildly anxious people would report decreased anxiety after listening daily for 1 month to tapes imbedded with tones that create binaural beats, and whether they would show a definite tape preference among 3 tapes.
Design: A 1-group pre-posttest pilot study.
Setting: Patients’ homes.
Participants: A volunteer sample of 15 mildly anxious patients seen in the Clinique Psyché, Montreal, Quebec.
Intervention: Participants were asked to listen at least 5 times weekly for 4 weeks to 1 or more of 3 music tapes containing tones that produce binaural beats in the electroencephalogram delta/theta frequency range. Participants also were asked to record tape usage, tape preference, and anxiety ratings in a journal before and after listening to the tape or tapes.
Main Outcome Measures: Anxiety ratings before and after tape listening, pre- and post-study State-Trait Anxiety Inventory scores, and tape preferences documented in daily journals.
Results: Listening to the binaural beat tapes resulted in a significant reduction in the anxiety score reported daily in patients’ diaries. The number of times participants listened to the tapes in 4 weeks ranged from 10 to 17 (an average of 1.4 to 2.4 times per week) for approximately 30 minutes per session. End-of-study tape preferences indicated that slightly more participants preferred tape B, with its pronounced and extended patterns of binaural beats, over tapes A and C. Changes in pre- and posttest listening State-Trait Anxiety Inventory scores trended toward a reduction of anxiety, but these differences were not statistically significant.
Conclusions: Listening to binaural beat tapes in the delta/theta electroencephalogram range may be beneficial in reducing mild anxiety. Future studies should account for music preference among participants and include age as a factor in outcomes, incentives to foster tape listening, and a physiologic measure of anxiety reduction. A controlled trial that includes binaural beat tapes as an adjunctive treatment to conventional therapy for mild anxiety may be warranted.

Chuter, E. E., Allan, M., & Laws, D. (2007). A pilot study comparing reduction of anxiety by binaural beat audio and patient-selected music in the pre-operative period. Anaesthesia, 62(3), 310. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2044.2006.04944_12.x

Padmanabhan, R., Hildreth, A. J., & 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(9), 874-877. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2044.2005.04287.x

ABSTRACT: Pre-operative anxiety is common and often significant. Ambulatory surgery challenges our preoperative goal of an anxiety-free patient by requiring people to be ‘street ready’ within a brief period of time after surgery. Recently, 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. We measured anxiety with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory questionnaire and compared binaural beat audio (Binaural Group) with an identical soundtrack but without these added tones (Audio Group) and with a third group who received no specific intervention (No Intervention Group). Mean [95% confidence intervals] decreases in anxiety scores were 26.3% [19–33%] in the Binaural Group (p = 0.001 vs. Audio Group, p < 0.0001 vs. No Intervention Group), 11.1% [6–16%] in the Audio Group (p = 0.15 vs. No Intervention Group) and 3.8% [0–7%] in the No Intervention Group. Binaural beat audio has the potential to decrease acute pre-operative anxiety significantly.



Kraus, J., & Porubanova, M. (2015). The Effect of Binaural Beats on Working Memory Capacity. Studia Psychologica, 57(2), 135-145.

ABSTRACT: The research explored the effect of binaural beats on working memory capacity (WMC). When the binaural beat beats with the frequency that corresponds to the state of alpha wave range, then it is believed that the overall brain activity changes accordingly. Brainwave activity within the alpha range has been generally correlated with many cognitive functions along with working memory improvement. Therefore, in this study it is assumed that binaural beat corresponding to alpha wave range will enhance subsequently WMC. In the following study, participants were divided into two groups. One group underwent a binaural beat stimulation while listening to the sound of the sea. The other group was listening solely to the sound of the sea without binaural beat stimulation. We measured baseline and post-stimulation working memory capacity using the OSPAN method. As expected, only participants from the binaural beat group showed an improvement in WMC.



Weber, A., Werneck, L., Paiva, E., & Gans, P. (2015). Effects of music in combination with vibration in acupuncture points on the treatment of fibromyalgia. Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.), 21(2), 77-82. doi:10.1089/acm.2014.0199

Objective: Fibromyalgia (FM) is a disease that causes widespread pain and increased sensitivity to pain because of a dysfunction in the central nervous system. This study investigated the effect of music combined with vibration on acupuncture points for the treatment of FM.
Methods: A total of 120 patients with FM were allocated randomly to four groups (30 patients each). One group listened to a sequence of Bach’s compositions. The second group was subjected to vibratory stimuli on a combination of acupuncture points on the skin. The third group (complete) underwent both procedures in a simultaneous and synchronized manner, with inclusion of binaural beats. The fourth group (control) received no stimulation. The participants underwent the experimental procedure during five sessions performed on alternate days. They were assessed by the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) and the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) before the first session and after the last session (20 days).
Results: All groups showed a significant improvement in FIQ and HAQ scores at the evaluation after the intervention. The complete group exhibited the best result on both the FIQ and HAQ ( p < 0.001), and the improvement in HAQ score was significant ( p < 0.004).
Conclusions: The results suggest that the placebo effect in FM may be substantial. However, comparison between groups revealed that the complete group had the greatest reduction in both FIQ and HAQ, with a significant improvement in HAQ, suggesting that the combined use of music and vibration exerts a greater effect on FM symptoms.

Zampi, D. D. (2016). Efficacy of Theta Binaural Beats for the Treatment of Chronic Pain. Alternative Therapies In Health & Medicine, 22(1), 32-38.

Context: According to the National Institutes of Health, in 2011, chronic pain affected from approximately 10% to >50% of the adult population in the United States, with a cost of $61 billion to US businesses annually.
Objective: The pilot study assessed the effects that an external, audio, neural stimulus of theta binaural beats (TBB) had on returning the brain neurosignature for chronic pain to homeostasis.
Methods: The quantitative, experimental, repeated-measures crossover study compared the results of 2 interventions in 2 time-order sequences. An a priori analysis indicated a sample size of 28 participants was needed for a 2-way repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA).
Setting: The study was conducted in Richmond, VA, USA, with participants recruited from the financial sector.
Participants: Thirty-six US adults with various types of chronic pain, and with a median age of 47 y, ranging in ages from 26-69 y, participated in the study. The study experienced 4 dropouts.
Intervention: Participants listened to 2 recordings-one using TBB at 6 Hz (TBB intervention) and one using a placebo of a nonbinaural beat tone of 300 Hz (sham intervention) for 20 min daily. Both interventions lasted 14 successive days each, with some participants hearing the TBB intervention first and the sham intervention second and some hearing them in the reverse order. Participants listened to the interventions via a Web site on the Internet or via a compact disc. Interviews were conducted either in person or telephonically with e-mail support.
Outcome Measures: Using the West Haven-Yale Multidimensional Pain Inventory (MPI), potential changes in perceived severity of chronic pain were measured (1) at baseline; (2) after the first test at 14 d, either TBB or sham intervention; and (3) after the second test at 28 d-either TBB or sham intervention. The analysis compared the average mean for pretest and first and second posttest scores.
Results: The analysis indicated a large main effect for the TBB intervention in reducing perceived pain severity, P<.001 (F2,60=84.98, r=0.74). Although the TBB and the placebo interventions both reduced the pain scores, a post hoc Bonferroni correction that compared pairs of MPI scores found a 77% larger drop in the mean for the TBB intervention, from M=4.60 at pretest to M=2.74 at the end of both TBB periods than in the mean for the sham intervention, with a change from M=4.60 at pretest to M=4.17 at the end of both sham periods.
Conclusions: The results supported the hypothesis that an external audio protocol of TBB was effective in reducing perceived pain severity for participants.