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Introduction to Brainwave Technology

By Charles Hopkins Published 01/17/2007 | Health

In spite of the science fiction sound of the name, brainwave technology is very much a part of our lives today. A more technical aspect of meditation and heightened awareness practice, brainwave technology uses sound to control brainwaves.  Brainwave technology allows a person to reach one of several brain states, from deep relaxation and meditation to heightened awareness and better focus. This, in turn, leads to better meditation, relaxation or work related performance, depending on the brain state you enhance.

The key to understanding brainwave technology lies in understanding something called binaural beats. This is the sound your brain hears when one tone is played at one frequency in one ear and a different tone is played at a different frequency in the other ear. The binaural beat is the reconciled difference between the two sounds. But here's the exiting part: the brain will actually resonate at the same frequency as the binaural beat it's creating.

By now you might be thinking "And this is important because....?" But bear with me. The resonance of your brain and the functions it performs are directly related. Your brain will resonate at one frequency when you're resting and at a different, much higher frequency when you're focusing on meeting that important deadline. Brainwave technology can enhance either of those resonances and help you 'hit your stride' better and faster than you can just by sitting down and trying to focus or sitting down and trying to relax.

Most brainwave technology operates through use of a CD and stereo headphones. The CD can be played in a computer or a CD player, but it must be listened to with headphones. Noise reduction headphones are best. The CD feed two tones to your brain; one to one ear and one to the other. Your brain then creates a binaural beat that resonates at the difference between the two tones. As your brain starts to resonate at that frequency, you 'hit stride' almost instantly.

Let's look at some specific examples. Beta brainwaves pulse at a frequency lower than 40Hz, but higher than 13Hz. The Beta brainwaves are the primary brainwaves for someone who is in active conversation, for example or solving a problem. The brain is alert; the mind is actively engaged. In brainwave technology, one ear will be fed a tone of, say, 120Hz, while the other will be fed a tone of 90Hz. The brain will then create a binaural beat of 30Hz--the difference between the two--which is a frequency comfortably within the Beta brainwave range. (Remember, we said that Beta brainwaves were those between 13Hz and 40Hz.) Within moments, your brain begins to resonate at this same frequency. You find yourself thinking more clearly; problems are easier to solve. Your mind is alert, actively seeking solutions.

Now, let's say you go home, take a hot bath and want to relax and unwind for a bit. Slide in a different CD (or choose a different track, depending on whom you purchased the CD from) and slip on your headphones. Now one ear is hearing a frequency of perhaps 95Hz, while the other hears a frequency of 101Hz. Your brain makes up the difference, with a binaural beat of 6Hz and begins to resonate in time with its own created beat. You are now in a Theta brainwave state; one of deep relaxation and/or meditation.

There is, of course, much more to brainwave technology than this. But this article should have given you a basic idea of what people are talking about when they speak of 'brainwave technology.'