I’ve been interested in binaural beats since I first heard of their proposed benefits years ago. My personal experience with them, however, never yielded any results. I suspected ‘benefits’ like study aid were placebos, and effects like decreased stress seemed more like the results of relaxing for 20 minutes over the beats themselves. I was delighted to choose this as a topic for study in the context of psychology and psychoacoustics.
Officially titled ‘An Investigation on the Effects of Brainwave Entrainment through Binaural Beats on Verbal Recall’, this project attempted to study the psychological effect of Binaural Beats through subjective trials and statistical methods using an Emotiv EEG.
The main objectives were to
- Study the effect of Binaural Beats int the theta range on verbal recall scores
- Correlate the results of the above study with the Big Five personality traits
- Study brainwave entrainment using an Electroencephalogram (EEG)
A theta range stimulus was designed, the plot of beat frequency vs time is displayed below.
According to the Monroe Institute, and other literature, we gathered the effects of different frequencies of the stimulation as -
Beta (13–26 Hz) — Alert concentration and problem-solving
Alpha (8–13 Hz) — Alert relaxation
Theta (4–7 Hz) - Deep relaxation and increased learning
Delta (1–3 Hz) — Deep sleep
We expected to see a general increase in the verbal recall scores, as theta range stimulus is expected to boost learning ability. However, the subjective nature of the experiment and the large number of variables that could bias the experiment led to generally unconvincing results.
The analysis on the verbal recall scores was inconclusive, and this could be due to a large number of reasons like length and frequency of stimulation. Out of the Big Five model, only Conscientiousness appears to have a significant p-value, but negative correlation coefficient. This can be interpreted as “The verbal recall scores of careful, thorough and vigilant people decreased after exposure to binaural beats stimulus in theta range” – Its logical validity is questionable.
The EEG study did suggest that brainwave entrainment was possible, but there was not enough data to correlate this with the big five personality traits. The following image plots the distribution of energy measured by the EEG at different intervals of time.
Read the full report here.Tags: 2012, Binaural Beats, Brainwave Entrainment, Georgia Tech, Matlab, Psychoacoustics