First of all a big thank you to everyone who took part in this little experiment. Secondly, sorry this post is a little later than I originally said it would be.
I was inspired to try this after listening to the sound and reading about what its effects should be. I was surprised to find that it’s effects worked on me, but I was curious as to whether that was the placebo effect because I knew what was supposed to happen. So that was the motivation for the experiment. The results were very interesting, 21 votes were recorded and were as follows:
What Effect Did the Sound Have On You?
None – 6 – 29%
Made me feel energised – 8 – 38%
Made me feel strange – 6 – 29%
Made me feel sleepy – 1 – 5%
But, what was the sound? Well, this experiment looked at the effects of binaural beats. An EEG detects different frequency waves in the brain during different mental states. The theory of binaural beats is that by listening to a particular frequency the brain enters the state of mind corresponding tp the EEG , as below:
|> 40 Hz||Gamma waves||Higher mental activity, including perception, problem solving, fear, and consciousness|
|13–39 Hz||Beta waves||Active, busy or anxious thinking and active concentration, arousal, cognition, and or paranoia|
|7–13 Hz||Alpha waves||Relaxation (while awake), pre-sleep and pre-wake drowsiness, REM sleep, Dreams|
|4–7 Hz||Theta waves||deep meditation/relaxation, NREM sleep|
|< 4 Hz||Delta waves||Deep dreamless sleep, loss of body awareness|
The sound in the experiment was a Theta wave. Therefore, should have created feelings of being tired and sleepiness. The poll on my original post found very different results with feeling “energised” the most popular feeling due to the sound and feeling “sleepy” the least popular.
This is obviously not a 100% accurate study. I have no idea how long the people who voted listened for, what they listened with (supposedly headphones makes the effect much more pronounced) or what environment they were in. As a result, with a small sample size and these big unknowns the inverse of the expected results is, ironically, not unexpected!
There have been lots of suggested (and unproven) uses and effects of binaural beats including improving memory, sporting performance, stopping smoking, dieting help and tackling erectile dysfunction. Some have even referred to it as an “auditory alternative medicine”! Even more bizarrely some people are claiming that this technology can be used to create drug like effects known as “i-dosing”. The effects of these sounds are still being studied and their actual effects is hotly debated with some maintaining that it is all placebo.
To me, without being able to find sufficient research on the effects of the sounds, I find it hard to draw a conclusion about the effects. I am willing to accept that binaural sounds may have a real effect on alertness. However, the more outlandish claims are really just ridiculous, and should be ignored.
To see an alarmist US news report on “i-doping” watch this video (sorry about the poor syncing of the audio):