Something wonderful happens when a sound of one frequency enters one ear at the same time that a sound of another frequency enters the other. The listener will perceive an auditory illusion of a third tone, in addition to the two pure-tones presented to each ear. The third sound is called a binaural beat.
That’s not the only wonderful thing. These sounds are said to induce relaxation, promote sleep, facilitate learning and memory, and elicit altered states of consciousness for the purpose of spiritual development. There are also claims that they help with ADHD, depression, and could cut down the need for anesthesia in surgery.
It all sounds too wonderful for me, but the folks at the Monroe Institute have been sponsoring research for over 40 years into what they call hemi-sync technology. They also sell that technology, which rouses my skepticism. You can read about their research, buy their DVDs, and try out binaural beats yourself to see if it does all that. Or you can listen to the sounds on YouTube for free. Just be sure you use a good set of stereo headphones or nothing will happen.
I don’t usually recommend things of questionable scientific value on the Shrink’s Links. There’s quite enough flakey recommendations in mental health treatment already. But binaural beats have the advantage of being very cheap, even free if you access them on YouTube. Also, I can’t imagine what kind of harm they would do, as long as you don’t discontinue other, established forms of treatment.
I tried out a few of the recordings on YouTube and, except for the initial YouTube advertisement blaring at me, found listening to them a relaxing experience. However, I suspect listening to any calm music would be relaxing.
If I was really serious about setting up a trial of binaural beat recordings to see if they help with all the things they claim, I would need to be able to listen to a few recordings randomly, along with some relaxing, non-binaural beat recordings as a control, and compare the results. I can’t know what I’m listening to beforehand, so I’ll need to have someone help me.
I just don’t have that kind of time; and, if I did, I wouldn’t need binaural beat recordings to relax me. But, if you have the time for this and want to try it out, please do so and write back to me by filing out this form. Tell me anonymously how you set up your experiments and what the results were.