Dr. Stephen Dansiger is the Head of Health and Wellness Innovation and Partnerships at DropLabs. He is responsible for developing innovations related to DropLabs tech and partnering with other practitioners and researchers to leverage DropLabs technology for health and wellness applications, in the mental health and wellness sector and beyond.
When I first experienced DropLabs footwear over four years ago at the invitation of CEO Susan Paley, I was immediately convinced that they would be helpful in my work as an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) therapist and trainer. In our therapy we use eye movements, tones and vibrations to deliver back and forth stimulation, and our footwear could do that for sure. What we also do in our therapy is have people engage with music, dance, expressive arts and meditation, and the footwear is an obvious choice for an enhanced experience of all of those modalities. Ever since, the DropLabs team has considered the many ways this technology might help people with a myriad of difficulties, wellness improvements, and performance enhancement opportunities.
One of the more popular techniques over the last couple of decades and obvious DropLabs driven intervention has been the use of binaural beats. Binaural beats were discovered in 1839 by a German researcher named Heinrich Wilhelm Dove. He at first thought he had discovered an additional form of the monaural beat, but after more research, he found that the binaural beat was produced by the brain itself through an integrative process outside of the main auditory processing system.
When a person is exposed to two different frequencies at the same time, one in each ear, the final result of these slightly different tone is that the brain perceives a single tone that is the difference between the two separate frequencies. Our brain, in all its complexity, performs the act of tuning to this new frequency.
People have listened to binaural beats using headphones for many years. Each ear is delivered a slightly different frequency, which can be accompanied by any stress relieving background sounds, and in the case of DropLabs, the accompanying vibrations. If your left ear receives a 200-hertz tone and your right ear receives a 210-hertz tone, your brain will process that auditory information and perceive a 10-hertz tone. So now we are perceiving a very low-frequency soundwave, in this case one you can’t actually hear. However, you do not have to hear the tone to get the effects.
The research on binaural beats is still in its early stages, but much of it is promising. Some of the more important findings from the research studies referenced at the end of this blog include:
- Cardiovascular functioning is made up of rhythmic processes; therefore, therapies can target these rhythms to improve the functioning, which in turn lowers stress reactivity.
- This alteration changes the frequencies in the brain (synchronization with presented stimulus), which in turn affects emotional, physical, and mental stress.
- Research is growing in support of the influence of the electronically modified binaural beats on social and learning behaviors including improved social communication, cognition, vigilance, memory, and reduced levels of anxiety.
- Controlled binaural beats reduced anger, tension, confusion and increased the desire to continue the treatment for get full recovery in addicted people. The study concluded that by using controlled binaural beats in conjunction with other activities in the treatment process, we can accelerate and consolidate treatment gains without side effects.
- Patients who listened to binaural beats before dental surgery were found to be less stressed than the control group of patients who did not listen to binaural beats.
- Results of one study suggest that the presentation of binaural auditory beats can affect psychomotor performance and mood. This technology may have applications for the control of attention and arousal and the enhancement of human performance.
- In another study, there was a decrease in trait anxiety, an increase in quality of life, and a decrease in insulin-like growth factor-1, and dopamine observed between pre- and post-intervention (Binaural beat technology) measurements.
- A meta-analysis added to the growing evidence that binaural-beat exposure is an effective way to affect cognition over and above reducing anxiety levels and the perception of pain without prior training.
Binaural beats at different frequencies and patterns achieve different goals. These include:
- Delta: Binaural beats in the delta pattern operate at a frequency of 0.5–4 Hz with and are linked to dreamless sleep. In one study, people who received a delta pattern frequency during sleep entered a deeper stage of sleep, according to EEG brain scan results.
- Theta: Practitioners set binaural beats in the theta pattern to a frequency of 4–7 Hz. Theta patterns contribute to improved meditation, creativity, and sleep in the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep.
- Alpha: Binaural beats in the alpha pattern are at a frequency of 7–13 Hz and may encourage relaxation.
- Beta: Binaural beats in the beta pattern are at a frequency of 13–30 Hz. This frequency range may help promote concentration and alertness. However, some studies show it can also increase anxiety at the higher end of the range.
- Gamma: This frequency pattern accounts for a range of 30–50 Hz. The study authors suggest that these frequencies promote maintenance of arousal while a person is awake.
There is much more to be learned going forward on the relationship between binaural beats and the audio and vibrational technology of DropLabs. As we go forward, our team and our partners will engage in informal and formal research on how to further tune the binaural beats in conjunction with soundscapes and music, hopefully with an even more enhanced response for the user. Stay tuned to this blog, as the insights and research arrive, we will surely pass it all on to you…
Capili, Jason; Hattori, Mark; and Naito, Maile, "Computational Music Biofeedback for Stress Relief " (2018). Computer Engineering
Danial Malek-Zadeh, Saeed Rahati Ghouchani, Hamid RezaKabrovi, Mahya Azad Dadgar; Binaural beats effect on addicted people based on EEG: Research on Addiction Quarterly Journal of Drug Abuse, 2017
Gantt et al., 2017: The Effect of Binaural Beat Technology on the Cardiovascular Stress Response in Military Service Members With Postdeployment Stress.
Garcia-Argibay, M., Santed, M.A. & Reales, J.M. Efficacy of binaural auditory beats in cognition, anxiety, and pain perception: a meta-analysis. Psychological Research 83, 357–372 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-018-1066-8
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McConnell, P. A., Froeliger, B., Garland, E. L., Ives, J. C., & Sforzo, G. A. (2014). Auditory driving of the autonomic nervous system: Listening to theta-frequency binaural beats post-exercise increases parasympathetic activation and sympathetic withdrawal. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 1248. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01248
Padmanabhan, Hildreth & Laws, 2005, A prospective, randomised, controlled study examining binaural beat audio and pre‐operative anxiety in patients undergoing general anaesthesia for day case surgery.
Tashjian, Hannah; Hair, Donielle; and Taasan, Phoebe, "Measuring The Outcomes of Therapeutic Listening in Children with Learning and Developmental Disabilities" (2018).