What is Brainwave Synchronization?

SmartSound™ combines a variety of clinical sound techniques and processes including brainwave synchronization and other forms of rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS). Brainwave synchronization provides an excellent example of how sound may be used to modulate neural acitivity for therapeutic effects.

The terms brainwave synchronization, neuroentrainment, auditory driving and brainwave entrainment (BWE) all refer to a natural phenomenon called 'entrainment'. Entrainment is all about synchronization. An easy way to understand it is to think of dancing, where we synchronize our movements to an external beat or rhythm, or how organisms synchronize to natural rhythms and cycles like day and night.

Brainwave entrainment then is the synchronization (or partial synchronization) of dominant brainwave patterns to a repetitive external stimulus. This stimulus can be aural as it is in SmartSound™, for example by using pulsed tones or other sounds, (see below), visual via flashing lights (photic stimulation), or physical using stimuli like repetitive vibration or movements - or any combinations thereof. 

 

Monaural and Binaural beats, Isochronic tones

While there are many ways of modulating sound to encourage brainwave synchronization, the degree of synchronization produced will vary depending on the types of stimuli used, their modulation and frequency profiles, the dominant brainwaves and activity of the user at the time, and a host of other factors.

The following types of auditory beat stimulation (ABS) are currently the most widely used and studied by clinicians, although click stimuli and other forms have also been investigated.

Monaural 'beats' are actual physical beats produced when two steady tones of neighbouring frequency (say 200 Hz and 210 Hz ) are combined externally to produce a 'beat' resulting from the difference between the two. In this case it would be 10 Hz, the equivalent of a mid range alpha frequency. This composite frequency stimulus can be delivered to one or both ears simultaneously or in other variations.

Binaural beats are generated when two neighbouring sine wave frequencies are presented simultaneously but separately to each ear via headphones. Using the example above, this would be 200 Hz in one ear and 210 Hz in the other. But rather than generating a physically perceived external 10 Hz beat like monaurals, this process creates the perception (percept) of a 'beat' inside the head resulting from the difference between the two frequencies.

So, while both methods can be used to encourage brainwave synchronization or entrainment, each engages a different kind of neurophysiological processing. Some researchers consider monaural beats to be 'peripheral' as they are initially detected at the cochlear level (in the inner ear), and binaural beats to be 'central' as they are thought to be processed by the medial superior olivary complex in the brainstem.

Isochronic tones, in their simplest form, are evenly spaced beats of a single tone characterised by a rapid onset/offset more akin to a square wave or a 'click'. Some studies suggest they are a far more effective tone-based method for creating brainwave synchronization than binaural beats, although less pleasant to listen to.

SmartSound™ incorporates the above, plus additional and proprietary forms of brainwave synchronization.  Why not enjoy a free sample with our 'Mini-D-Stress' session!

 

 

 

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