While the term psycho-acoustic medicine may be relatively new in our world, the practices of using sound and frequencies to impact the physical and emotional health of the body has been used since the beginning of time. From Gregorian chants in churches, to the chanting of Tibetan monks, to Native American drumming, song and sound have been a catalyst in stimulating health and healing for the body and mind in all cultures. The definition of psycho-acoustic medicine is the science of how music and sound impact the nervous system, psychologically and physiologically. Simply, how it is how sound impacts the mind and the body.
One particular area of this science of sound is that of “binaural beats.” Binaural beats were first theorized in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove but was first scientifically tested and proven in 1973 by Dr. Gerald Oster, a medical doctor and biophysicist, when he published his finding in a research paper calledAuditory Beats in the Brain. The study opened up a whole new area of science as it showed how sound affects the way and how quickly the brain learns new information, mood control, sleep patterns and healing responses within the body, among many other items.
How Binaural Beats Influence The Brain and Body
To begin, let’s first look at what binaural beats exactly are. Dr. Suzanne Evans Morris, Ph.D., who is a speech-language pathologist, states:
“Research shows that different frequencies presented to each ear through stereo headphones… create a difference tone (or binaural beat) as the brain puts together the two tones it actually hears. Through EEG monitoring the difference tone is identified by a change in the electrical pattern produced by the brain. For example, frequencies of 200 Hz and 210 Hz produce a binaural beat frequency of 10 Hz (The difference in 210 Hz and 200 Hz is 10 Hz). Monitoring of the brain’s electricity (EEG) shows that the brain produces increased 10 Hz activity with equal frequency and amplitude of the wave form in both hemispheres of the brain (left and right hemisphere).”
Researchers believe that different brain wave patterns are linked to the production in the brain of various neurochemicals associated with relaxation and stress release, increased learning and creativity, memory, and other desirable benefits. These neurochemicals include beta-endorphins, growth factors, gut peptides, acetylcholine, vasopressin, and serotonin.
Neuro-electric therapy engineer Dr. Margaret Patterson and Dr. Ifor Capel, showed in there experimentshow a 10 Hz brainwave frequency (alpha brainwaves), increased the production of serotonin, to help ease pain and increase relaxation. They also showed how a 4 Hz brainwave frequency (theta brainwaves), increases production of catecholamines, which are important for memory and learning.