The Science of Brainwaves & Binaural Beats

What are these fancy sounds called binaural beats, you ask? Binaural beats are an auditory illusion created by transmitting different sound frequencies to each ear, combining to create a new frequency perceived by our brains.

The Science of Brainwaves & Binaural Beats Infographic - Strong with Purpose

The Science of Brainwaves & Binaural Beats

Binaural beats can cause our brains to produce the same type of brainwave (delta, theta, alpha, beta, or gamma) similar to the binaural beat.

In order to better understand the science of binaural beats, I dove through all the latest related research and compiled my findings below.

Binaural Beats for Creativity

One study showed that using alpha and beta binaural beats caused an enhancement in brainstorm-like creative thinking in individuals with low striatal dopamine levels, but impaired performance in the same kind of task in others.[1] This suggests that binaural beats are not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Binaural Beats for Anxiety

The results of one study suggested that binaural beat technology may exhibit a positive effect on self-reported psychological measures, especially anxiety. [2] Another study showed that binaural beats significantly reduced patients’ anxiety associated with dental surgery. [3]

Binaural Beats for Memory

One study demonstrated that frequencies corresponding to alpha range of brain activity had a temporary but significant positive effect on the capacity of working memory. [4]

In another study, exposure to beta-frequency binaural beats yielded a greater proportion of correctly recalled words and a higher sensitivity index in recognition tasks, while theta-frequency binaural-beat presentation lessened the number of correctly remembered words and the sensitivity index. These findings indicate that the presentation of binaural auditory beats can affect long-term memory both positively and negatively, depending on the frequency used. [5]

Binaural Beats for Cognitive Flexibility

One study supports the assumption that gamma beats promote cognitive flexibility. This study suggests that binaural beats provide the opportunity for cognitive enhancement by providing people with tools to tailor their cognitive-control states to situational demands. [6]

Binaural Beats for Chronic Pain

One study found that the external audio protocol of theta binaural beats is effective at reducing perceived change in pain severity by returning the brain neurosignature for chronic pain to homeostasis. [7]

Future research will continue to explore the various and specific effects of using binaural beats.

Binaural Beats in Your Life

So, how can you actually use binaural beats in your life?

My personal favorite way to use binaural beats is through the beautiful, highly-rated Beatfulness app available for Apple iOS.

Beatfulness isn’t available on Android, but Android users can check out Brain Wave Therapy Pro (Binaural).

The Beatfulness app might just be my favorite app ever. It’s incredibly functional while also being aesthetically pleasing and fun to use. It has time-able, loop-able binaural beats in many varieties. These beats can be used for meditation and so much more. There are currently 27 different categories of binaural beats available, and new ones are continuously being added.

There are so many possibilities! I feel like I’ve only begun to scratch the surface in my experiences with binaural beats.

I enjoy using binaural beats during meditation and creative pursuits. I’m gradually experimenting with more of the available binaural beats.

Do you have any experience with binaural beats, or has this article encouraged you to give them a try? Let me know in the comments below!

The Science of Brainwaves and Binaural Beats - Strong with Purpose


[1] The Impact of Binaural Beats on Creativity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 14 November 2013.
[2] Binaural Beat Technology in Humans: A Pilot Study To Assess Psychologic and Physiologic Effects. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 
[3] Effectiveness of Binaural Beats in Reducing Preoperative Dental Anxiety. British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Volume 55, Issue 6, Pages 571-574. 18 Mar 2017.
[4] Binaural Auditory Beats Affect Vigilance Performance and Mood. Physiology & Behavior, Volume 63, Issue 2, Pages 249-252. 30 Jan 1998.
[5] Cortical Steady-State Responses to Central and Peripheral Auditory Beats. Cerebral Cortex, Volume 18, Issue 5, Pages 1193ā€“1200. 07 September 2007.
[6] High-Frequency Binaural Beats Increase Cognitive Flexibility: Evidence from Dual-Task Crosstalk. Frontiers in Psychology. 24 August 2016.
[7] Efficacy of Theta Binaural Beats for the Treatment of Chronic Pain. Altern Ther Health Med. Jan 2016.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Sandy

    I’ve been curious about binaural beats for some time now but I don’t have headphones. About time I got some.

    1. Kristen

      Iā€™m glad you found this post, Sandy! Definitely get yourself some headphones and give binaural beats a try! šŸ™‚

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