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Binaural Beats

While music is often incorporated into meditation, binaural beat meditation revolves specifically around sound. Two beats of slightly different frequencies are heard through headphones, with one beat going to the right ear only and the other going to the left ear only. The brain integrates the two separate signals into a third noise, which is known as a binaural beat. The exact mechanism behind binaural beat therapy is not yet understood, but it is believed that the process of integrating two different sounds from two different sources helps to increase synchronization between the two hemispheres of the brain, which typically act largely separate of one another. This increased synchronization is believed to influence cognition and stimulate the brain as a whole, leading to improved focus, attention, concentration, and memory. When used therapeutically, binaural beats are also believed to relieve anxiety, reduce depression, and improve overall emotional state.

Binaural beats can be mixed into more traditional music and used for music therapy. Binaural beat meditation is the use of this type of specialized soundtrack while meditating.

Scientific Studies:

A 1999 study looked at using binaural beat therapy with children aged 6-14 who had been diagnosed with ADHD. The primary purpose of the study was to find which frequencies of beats were most preferred, but effects of the music were also noted, with some of the children being calmed by the music, and many households reporting improvements in attitude and behavior.

In 2008, researchers explored binaural beat stimulation as a way of improving attentiveness in children and adolescents with ADHD. While the experimenters themselves did not find notable improvements in attention, both parents and the participants themselves reported improved performance on homework, and many also noted that they were pleased with how easily the treatment could be administered (i.e., all they had to do was sit quietly and listen to some music).

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