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The Sound Medicine of Brian Dailey, M.D.

The Sound Medicine of Dr. Brian Dailey

The Sound Medicine of Brian Dailey, M.D., F.A.C.E.P. (Alternative & Complementary Therapies)
Dr. Brian Dailey treats patients with innovative Hemi-Sync® sound technology, originally developed by Robert Monroe.

By Russ Mason (June 2004)
Brian Dailey, M.D., F.A.C.E.P., is a clinical instructor in alternative and complimentary medicine (ACM) therapies at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (Rochester, New York) and is board certified in emergency medicine. He is an attending physician in emergency medicine at Rochester General Hospital, a long-time practitioner of energy medicine, and a Reiki Master and teacher who uses crystal therapy and aromatherapy in his medical practice. He lectures and conducts workshops throughout the United States and Canada about the application of these modalities. He is actively involved in research involving consciousness exploration as well as energetic and remote healing.
In 1990, Dr. Dailey experienced The Monroe Institute’s (TMI’s) Hemi-Sync® technology in a weekend workshop…
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The Effect of Hemispheric Synchronization on Intraoperative Analgesia

Abstract
In this double-blinded randomized study, we sought to confirm that patients undergoing general anesthesia who were exposed to a hemispheric synchronization (Hemi-Sync) musical recording during surgery had a smaller analgesia requirement, as was suggested in a previous study. Bispectral index monitoring was used to adjust depth of hypnosis, and hemodynamic variables were used to determine analgesia administration. Consented patients underwent either laparoscopic bariatric or one-level lumbar disk surgery. After endotracheal intubation and application of headphones, baseline heart rate and arterial blood pressure were established. Isoflurane was titrated to maintain sedation on the basis of a target bispectral index range of 40–60, and 25-μg increments of fentanyl were administered in response to increases in heart rate and systolic arterial blood pressure. Bariatric patients who listened to Hemi-Sync required one-third less fentanyl than the control group (mean [SD]: 0.015 [0.01] vs 0.024 μg · kg−1 · min−1 [0.01]) (P = 0.009). It is interesting to note that lumbar patients in the experimental and control groups required similar amounts of fentanyl (0.012 [0.01] vs 0.015 μg · kg−1 · min−1 [0.01]). End-tidal isoflurane concentration was similar for Hemi-Sync and blank-tape patients (bariatric, 0.74% (0.14) vs 0.77% (0.21); lumbar, 0.36% [0.16] vs 0.39% [0.12]). The bariatric patients in this study demonstrated that Hemi-Sync may be an innovative intraoperative supplement to analgesia.

A Controlled Medical Study Using Hemi-Sync®Audio Tapes During Surgery

Over the years we have received scores of anecdotal reports identifying various benefits received by individuals using the Hemi-Sync tapes in our Surgical Support Series. Reported benefits have included: lower but stable blood pressure; deep relaxation; slower, deeper breathing; less and sometimes no pain medication required; less anesthesia during surgery; quicker return to consciousness in the recovery room, and accelerated recuperation.

We are pleased to announce the results of a controlled medical study involving the use of Hemi-Sync during surgery. These results were published in Anaethesia, August 1999, 54, pages 769-773 in an article entitled “Hemispheric-synchronization during anaethesia: a double-blind randomized trial using audio tapes for intra-operative nociception control,” copyright 1999, Blackwell Science Ltd.

The study investigated the possible benefits for patients listening to Hemi-Sync audio tapes while undergoing surgery under general anaesthesia at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup, UK. A total of 76 patients, ranging in age from 18-75, participated in the study. To determine the relative benefits for patients listening to Hemi-Sync sounds, two control groups were established for patients to listen to non-Hemi-Sync sounds. These groups listened to classical music or blank tapes respectively. Patients were assigned one of three numbered (but unlabelled) tapes using a computer-generated random number table. Of the patients participating, 25 (15 men, 10 women) listened to Hemi-Sync tapes, 25 (9 men, 16 women) listened to classical music tapes, and 26 (9 men, 17 women) listened to blank tapes.

The results revealed that patients who listened to Hemi-Sync tapes required substantially less analgesia during surgery while no significant differences were found between the classical music group and the blank tape group. Following are excerpts from the article:

“In our study, we found that patients exposed to a Hemi-Sync audio tape whilst undergoing surgery under ‘light’ general anesthesia required significantly less analgesia with fentanyl when compared with patients listening to a blank tape or to classical music… Patients in the blank tape and classical music groups required on average 4.5 times as much fentanyl as the patients in the Hemi-Sync group. This difference remained significant when regression analysis was used to control for the effects of age and sex… On the basis of the preliminary findings of this pilot study, we believe that larger randomized studies are now required which utilize all the tapes in the Surgical Support Series.”

The Hemi-Sync Process

by F. Holmes Atwater(June 1999)

Research Division, The Monroe Institute

 

Introduction

Robert Monroe developed and patented1 a binaural-beat technology called the Hemi-Sync auditory-guidance system. The Monroe Institute, a 501c(3) nonprofit research and educational organization, uses this Hemi-Sync system within an educational process. During this process individuals listen to a combination of multiplexed audio binaural beats that are mixed with music, pink sound2, and/or the natural sound of surf. Binaural-beat stimulation, coupled with the effects of the other components within the Hemi-Sync process, encourages access to focused states of consciousness.

Ancient cultures used the natural power of sound and music to safely influence states of consciousness in religious ceremonies and to promote psychological and physical health. Today, the idea that auditory stimulation can affect consciousness is widely accepted (Poole 1993). Hemi-Sync represents the state-of-the art in the technological application of the natural power of sound and ithas a variety of beneficial applications. Studies have shown improvements in sensory integration (Morris 1990), relaxation, meditation, stress reduction, pain management, sleep (Wilson 1990; Rhodes 1993), and health care (Carter 1993). Hemi-Sync has proven effective in producing enriched learning environments, enhanced memory (Kennerly 1994), improved creativity (Hiew 1995), increased intuition, improved reliability in remote viewing3 (McMoneagle 1993), telepathy4, and out-of-body experience5. Understanding of the effectiveness of Hemi-Sync goes beyond knowing about the natural power of sound to include the well-known autonomic effects of restricted environmental stimulation, controlled breathing, progressive relaxation, and the psychology of affirmations and visualizations. This paper discusses the brain-mind model, brain waves and their relationship to states of consciousness and the role of the reticular activating system (RAS) in regulating brain waves, and beneficial social-psychological conditioning and educational processes.

Binaural Beats and The Physiology of the Brain

Binaural beats were discovered in 1839 by a German experimenter, H. W. Dove. The human ability to “hear” binaural beats appears to be the result of evolutionary adaptation. Many evolved species can detect binaural beats because of their brain structure. The frequencies at which binaural beats can be detected change depending upon the size of the species’ cranium. In the human, binaural beats can be detected when carrier tones6 are below approximately 1500 Hz (Oster 1973). The relevant issue here, however, is this innate ability of the brain to detect phase differences between the ears that enables the perception of binaural beats.

The sensation of “hearing” binaural beats occurs when two coherent sounds of nearly similar frequencies (less than 1500 Hz) are presented, one to each ear, and the brain detects phase differences between these sounds. This phase difference would normally provide directional information to the listener but when presented with stereo headphones or speakers the brain integrates the two signals, producing a sensation of a third sound called the binaural beat.

Perceived as a fluctuating rhythm at the frequency of the difference between the two (stereo left and right) auditory inputs, binaural beats originate in the brainstem within the contralateral audio-processing regions called the superior olivary nuclei (Oster 1973). This auditory sensation is neurologically routed to the reticular formation (Swann et al. 1982) and simultaneously volume conducted to the cortex where it can be objectively measured as a frequency-following response (Oster 1973; Smith, Marsh, & Brown 1975; Marsh, Brown & Smith 1975; Smith et al. 1978; Hink et al. 1980).

There have been numerous anecdotal reports and a growing number of research efforts reporting beneficial brain-state changes associated with Hemi-Sync’s binaural beats. Binaural beats have been associated with changes in arousal states, attentional focus, and levels of awareness leading to sensory integration (Morris 1990), improved response to alpha biofeedback training (Foster 1990), relaxation, meditation, stress reduction, pain management, improved sleep (Wilson 1990; Rhodes 1993), health care (Carter 1993), enriched learning environments (Akenhead 1993), enhanced memory (Kennerly 1994), creativity (Hiew 1995), treatment of children with developmental disabilities (Morris 1996), the facilitation of attention (Guilfoyle & Carbone 1996), peak and other exceptional experiences (Masluk 1997), enhancement of hypnotizability (Brady 1997), treatment of alcoholic depression (Waldkoetter & Sanders 1997), and positive effects on vigilance performance and mood (Lane et al. 1998).

Passively listening to Hemi-Sync binaural beats may not automatically engender a focused state of consciousness. The Hemi-Sync process includes a number of components; binaural beats are only one element. We all maintain a psychophysiological momentum, a homeostasis that may resist the influence of the binaural beats. Practices such as humming, toning, breathing exercises, autogenic training, and/or biofeedback can be used to interrupt the homeostasis of resistant subjects (Tart 1975). Naturally occurring ultradian rhythms driven by the reticular activating system and characterized by periodic changes in arousal (Webb & Dube 1981; Rossi 1986; Shannahoff-Khalsa 1991), may influence the effectiveness of binaural beats. One’s first-person experience in response to binaural-beat stimulation may also be affected by a number of psychological mediating factors.

Brain Waves and Consciousness

Controversies concerning the brain, mind, and consciousness have existed since the early Greek philosophers argued about the nature of the mind-body relationship, and none of these disputes has been resolved. Modern neurologists have located the mind in the brain and have said that consciousness is the result of electrochemical neurological activity. There are, however, a growing number of observations that challenge the completeness of these assertions. There is no neurophysiological research which conclusively demonstrates that the higher levels of mind (intuition, insight, creativity, imagination, understanding, thought, reasoning, intent, decision, knowing, will, spirit, or soul) are located in brain tissue (Hunt 1995). A resolution to the controversies surrounding the higher mind and consciousness and the mind-body problem in general may require an epistemological shift to include extra-rational ways of knowing (de Quincey 1994) and may well elude comprehension by neurochemical brain studies alone.

We are in the midst of a revolution focusing on the study of consciousness (Owens 1995). Penfield (1975), an eminent contemporary neurophysiologist, found that the human mind continued to work in spite of the brain’s reduced activity under anesthesia. Brain waves were nearly absent while the mind was just as active as in the waking state. The only difference was in the content of the conscious experience. Following Penfield’s work, other researchers have reported awareness in comatose patients (Hunt 1995) and there is a growing body of evidence which suggests that reduced cortical arousal while maintaining conscious awareness is possible (Fischer 1971; West 1980; Delmonte 1984; Wallace 1986; Goleman 1988; Mavromatis 1991; Jevning, Wallace, & Beidenbach 1992). These states are variously referred to as meditative, trance, altered, hypnagogic, hypnotic, and twilight-learning states (Budzynski 1986). These various forms of consciousness rest on the maintenance of awareness in a physiologically reduced state of arousal marked by parasympathetic dominance (Mavromatis 1991). Highly hypnotizable subjects and adept meditators have demonstrated that maintaining consciousness with reduced cortical arousal is indeed possible in selected individuals, either as a natural ability or as an acquired skill (Sabourin, Cutcomb, Crawford, & Pribram 1993). More and more scientists are expressing doubts about the neurologists’ brain-mind model because it fails to answer so many questions about our ordinary experiences and evades our mystical and spiritual queries. Studies in distant mental influence and mental healing also challenge the notion of a mind localized within the brain (Dossey 1994; Dossey 1996). Nonlocal events have been proven to occur at the subatomic level and some researchers believe that the physics principles behind these events also underlie nonlocal consciousness-mediated effects (Dossey 1996). The scientific evidence supporting the phenomenon of remote viewing alone is sufficient to show that mind-consciousness is not a local phenomenon (McMoneagle 1993).

If mind-consciousness is not the brain, why then does science relate states of consciousness and mental functioning to brain waves? And why does the Hemi-Sync process include a binaural-beat technology that has the potential to alter brain waves? The first question can be answered in terms of instrumentation. There is no objective way to measure mind or consciousness with an instrument. Mind-consciousness appears to be a field phenomenon that interfaces with the body and the neurological structures of the brain (Hunt 1995). This field cannot be measured directly with current instrumentation. On the other hand, the electrical potentials of the body can be measured and easily quantified. Contemporary science likes things that can be measured and quantified. The problem here lies in the oversimplification of the observations. EEG patterns measured on the cortex are the result of electroneurological activity of the brain. But the brain’s electroneurological activity is not mind-consciousness. Therefore, EEG measurements are only an indirect means of assessing the mind-consciousness interface with the neurological structures of the brain. As crude as this may seem, the EEG has been a reliable way for researchers to estimate states of consciousness based on the relative proportions of EEG frequencies. Stated another way, certain EEG patterns have been historically associated with specific states of consciousness. Although not an absolute, it is reasonable to assume, given the current EEG literature, that if a specific EEG pattern emerges it is probably accompanied by a particular state of consciousness.

The second question raised in the above paragraph requires a more complex explanation. The Hemi-Sync process includes the powerful binaural-beat technology because altering arousal states, attentional focus, and levels of awareness allows for an increased repertoire of mind-consciousness experiences. When brain waves move to lower frequencies (lower arousal) and consciousness is maintained (cognitive experience), a unique state emerges. Practitioners of the Hemi-Sync process call this state of hypnagogia “mind awake/body asleep.” Slightly higher brain-wave frequencies can lead to hyper-suggestive states of consciousness. Still higher frequencies are associated with the alert and focused levels of attention necessary for the optimal performance of many tasks.

Perceived reality changes depending on the state of consciousness of the perceiver (Tart 1975). Some states of consciousness provide limited views of reality, while others provide an expanded awareness of reality. For the most part, states of consciousness vary in response to the ever-changing internal environment and surrounding stimulation. For example, states of consciousness are subject to influences like drugs and circadian and ultradian rhythms (Webb & Dube 1981; Rossi 1986; Shannahoff-Khalsa 1991). Specific states of consciousness can also be learned as adaptive behaviors to demanding circumstances (Green & Green 1986). Functioning through the mechanism of the extended reticular-thalamic activating system, Hemi-Sync offers access to a wide variety of altered-state experiences for those wanting to explore the realms of consciousness.

Hemispheric Synchronization

The term “Hemi-Sync” was chosen as a trademark because perceiving the binaural beat indicates that the audio processing centers in the two hemispheres of the brain are functioning coherently, or in sync with each other. Many of the states of consciousness available through this technology have been identified as presenting unique hemispherically synchronized brain-wave frequencies. Although synchronized brain waves have long been associated with meditative and hypnagogic states, Hemi-Sync may be unique in its ability to induce and improve such states of consciousness. The reason for this is physiological. Each ear is “hardwired” (so to speak) to both hemispheres of the brain (Rosenzweig 1961). Each hemisphere has its own olivary nucleus (sound-processing center) which receives signals from each ear. When a binaural beat is perceived there are actually two electrochemical, synaptic waves of equal amplitude and frequency present, one in each hemisphere. This is, in and of itself, hemispheric synchrony of synaptic activity. The unique binaural beats of the Hemi-Sync system appear to contribute to the hemispheric synchronization evidenced in meditative and hypnagogic states of consciousness. Hemi-Sync’s binaural beats may also enhance brain function by enabling the user to reconcile cross-collosal connectivity at designated brain-wave frequencies.

The two cerebral hemispheres of the brain are like two separate information-processing modules. Both are complex cognitive systems; both process information independently and in parallel; and their interaction is neither arbitrary nor continuous (Zaidel 1985). States of consciousness can be defined not only in terms of brain-wave frequency ratios, but also in terms of hemispheric specialization and/or interaction. An individual’s cognitive repertoire and, therefore, his ability to perceive reality and deal with the everyday world, is subject to his ability to experience various states of consciousness (Tart 1975).

The Hemi-Sync Process Alters States of Consciousness

The extended reticular-thalamic activation system (ERTAS) regulates brain-wave activity (Newman 1997), an essential element in altering consciousness. The word reticular means “net-like” and the neural reticular formation itself is a large, net-like diffuse area of the brainstem (Anch et al. 1988). The reticular activating system (RAS) interprets and reacts to information from internal stimuli, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs as well as external sensory stimuli by regulating arousal states, attentional focus, and levels of awareness—by definition, elements of consciousness itself (Empson 1986; Tice & Steinberg 1989). How we interpret, respond, and react to information then, is managed by the brain’s reticular formation stimulating the thalamus and cortex, and controlling attentiveness and levels of arousal (Empson 1986).

In order to alter arousal states, attentional focus, and levels of awareness, it is necessary to provide some sort of information input to the RAS. Hemi-Sync’s binaural beats provide this information. The information referred to here is the complex, brain-wave-like pattern of the Hemi-Sync binaural beat. This unique binaural-beat (neurologically evidenced by the EEG frequency-following response) is recognized by the RAS as brain-wave pattern information. If internal stimuli, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and external sensory stimuli are not in conflict with this information (e.g., an internal, even unconscious, fear may be a source of conflict), the RAS will alter states of consciousness to match the Hemi-Sync stimulus as a natural function of maintaining homeostasis7.

As time passes, the RAS monitors both the internal and external environment and arousal states, attentional focus, and levels of awareness to determine, from moment to moment, the most suitable way to deal with existing conditions. As long as no conflicts develop, the RAS naturally continues aligning the listener’s state of consciousness with the information in the brain-wave-like pattern of the Hemi-Sync sound field.

In objective, measurable terms, EEG-based research provides evidence of Hemi-Sync’s influence on arousal states, attentional focus, and levels of awareness. Since the RAS regulates cortical EEG (Swann et al. 1982), monitoring EEG chronicles performance of the RAS. There have been several free-running EEG studies (Foster 1990; Sadigh 1990; Hiew 1995, among others) which suggest that Hemi-Sync binaural beats induce alterations in EEG. Because the RAS is responsible for regulating EEG (Swann et al. 1982; Empson 1986), these studies document measurable changes in RAS function during exposure to Hemi-Sync.

But this is only part of the Hemi-Sync process. First-person experience of consciousness is much more than just arousal states, attentional focus, and levels of awareness. The cognitive content of the experience is what gives it meaning. Whereas a specific state of cortical arousal is induced by the Hemi-Sync binaural beats, the content portion of a focused state of consciousness depends on social-psychological conditioning and the mental ability of the individual. The educational application of the Hemi-Sync technology incorporates these dimensions. In terms of social-psychological conditioning, the Hemi-Sync audio-guidance media provide instructions on relaxation and breathing, affirmations for objectifying personal intent, and guided visual imagery. In the Institute’s educational programs, skilled trainers—mediators sensitive to the subtle indices of participants’ phrasing, body language, and expressiveness—provide counseling and encourage group interaction to insure an environment conducive to enhanced cognitive experience within specific Hemi-Sync generated states of cortical arousal, called Focus Levels.

Trainers are experienced in the realms being explored by program participants. Because they have first-hand knowledge of these worlds they can help others alter their own social-psychological conditioning. Trainers encourage introspection on the part of participants to aid in the integration and realization of novel experiences. When appropriate, trainers encourage participants to reframe their experiences into more useful perspectives.

To the degree that mental ability defines one’s capacity to experience, cognitive skills can be enhanced through educational processes. Participants are offered materials to read. Informative lectures are scheduled throughout the duration of the programs. The use of multimedia enhances the presentation of educational materials. Planned group discussions provide the opportunity to share and to inspire each other. Development through practice is at the core of the educational process and participants are given numerous opportunities to experience the exciting focused states of consciousness available within the Hemi-Sync process.

Summary

The patented Hemi-Sync auditory-guidance system provides a safe, natural means to alter arousal states, attentional focus, and levels of awareness. The Hemi-Sync process is a unique combination of this powerful brain-wave modification technology, coupled with well-understood psycho-physiological inductive techniques (restricted environmental stimulation, controlled breathing, progressive relaxation, etc.), supportive social-psychological conditioning procedures, and conventional teaching methods.

Footnotes

1a. Patent Number: 3884218; Issue Year: 1975; State/Country: VA; Marketed as: Hemi-Sync; Inventor: Robert A. Monroe; Title: Method of Inducing and Maintaining Various Stages of Sleep in the Human Being. b. Patent Number: 5213562; Issue Year: 1993; State/Country: VA; Marketed as: Hemi-Sync; Inventor: Robert A. Monroe; Title: Method of Inducing Mental, Emotional and Physical States of Consciousness, Including Specific Mental Activity, in Human Beings. c. Patent Number: 5356368; Issue Year: 1994; State/Country: VA; Marketed as: Hemi-Sync; Inventor: Robert A. Monroe; Title: Method of Inducing Desired States of Consciousness.
2Pink sound is “white noise” (like the hiss sound from a television after a station has stopped transmitting) which has been equalized for human hearing to create a more pleasing natural sound.
3Remote viewing is the ability to describe objects and activities blocked from sensory input by time or space by mental means alone.
4Telepathy is commonly referred to as direct mind-to-mind communication, a rather limiting definition when compared to Robert Monroe’s broader nonverbal communication.
5One’s mind is always experienced as being either in or out of the body. It depends on where awareness is focused. Being out-of-body simply means that there is no direct connection to certain material levels of consciousness. Being out-of-body is a consciousness experience with a shift of mind-consciousness field energy and locale. (Hunt 1995)
6Electronically produced binaural beats can be “heard” when audio tones of slightly different frequencies referred to as carrier tones are presented, one to each ear.
7The brain automatically and actively regulates all body functions to maintain homeostasis—an internal equilibrium (Green & Green 1977; Swann et al. 1982). In a natural and constant attempt to maintain a homeostasis of the elements of consciousness, the RAS actively monitors and continues the neural replication of ongoing brain-wave states (unless, of course, there is reason to make an adjustment due to new information from internal sources or external sensory input).

References

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Budzynski, T. H. (1986). Clinical applications of non-drug-induced states. In B. B. Wolman & M. Ullman (Eds.), Handbook of States of Consciousness, pp. 428-460. (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company).

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Foster, D. S. (1990). EEG and subjective correlates of alpha frequency binaural beats stimulation combined with alpha biofeedback. Hemi-Sync Journal, VIII (2), pp. 1-2.

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Green, E. E. & Green, A. M. (1986). Biofeedback and states of consciousness. In B. B. Wolman & M. Ullman (Eds.), Handbook of States of Consciousness, pp. 553-589. (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company).

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Morris, S.E. (1990). Hemi-Sync and the facilitation of sensory integration. Hemi-Sync Journal, VIII(4), pp. 5-6.

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Binaural Auditory Beats Affect Vigilance Performance & Mood

Reprint from Physiology & Behavior, Vol. 63, No. 2, pp. 249-252, 1998
© 1998 Elsevier Science Inc.

Binaural Auditory Beats Affect Vigilance

Performance and Mood

JAMES D. LANE,* STEFAN J. KASIAN,* JUSTINE E. OWENS** AND GAIL R. MARSH*

  

*Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina; and

**Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies, School of Nursing, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia

Received 18 July 1997; Accepted 29 August 1997

LANE, J. D., S. J. KASIAN, J. E. OWENS AND G. R. MARSH. Binaural auditory beats affect vigilance performance and mood. PHYSIOL BEHAV 63(2) 249 252, 1998. – When two tones of slightly different frequency are presented separately to the left and right ears the listener perceives a single tone that varies in amplitude at a frequency equal to the frequency difference between the two tones, a perceptual phenomenon known as the binaural auditory beat. Anecdotal reports suggest that binaural auditory beats within the electroencephalograph frequency range can entrain EEG activity and may affect states of consciousness, although few scientific studies have been published. This study compared the effects of binaural auditory beats in the EEG beta and EEG theta/delta frequency ranges on mood and on performance of a vigilance task to investigate their effects on subjective and objective measures of arousal. Participants (n = 29) performed a 30-min visual vigilance task on three different days while listening to pink noise containing simple tones or binaural beats either in the beta range (16 and 24 Hz) or the theta/delta range (1.5 and 4 Hz). However, participants were kept blind to the presence of binaural beats to control expectation effects. Presentation of beta-frequency binaural beats yielded more correct target detections and fewer false alarms than presentation of theta/delta frequency binaural beats. In addition, the beta-frequency beats were associated with less negative mood. Results suggest that the presentation of binaural auditory beats can affect psychomotor performance and mood. This technology may have applications for the control of attention and arousal and the enhancement of human performance. © 1998 Elsevier Science Inc.

 Keywords: binaural auditory beats, vigilance performance, mood, frequency-following response

WHEN two pure auditory signals of similar frequency are mixed together, the phase interference between their waveforms produces a composite signal with a frequency midway between the upper and lower frequencies and an amplitude modulation that occurs with a frequency equal to the difference between the two original frequencies. For example, mixing tones of 100 Hz and II 0 Hz yields a signal with a perceived frequency of 105 Hz that rises and falls in amplitude with a frequency of 10 Hz. The amplitude-modulated composite signal is called an auditory beat.

A similar phenomenon occurs when auditory signals of similar frequency are presented separately to the left and right ear through stereo headphones. Although each ear hears only one of the frequencies, the listener perceives the middle frequency and the amplitude modulation, even though the auditory beat does not exist in physical space. This phenomenon, called a “binaural auditory beat,” and described more than 25 years ago (6), is created by the brain’s processing of the two separate auditory signals at the level of the olivary nuclei of the brainstem.

Binaural auditory beats provide a mechanism for stimulating the auditory system at very low frequencies, below the frequency threshold of hearing. Such very low frequency auditory stimuli might be capable of eliciting an entrainment of EEG frequencies, similar to that known to occur during low frequency photic stimulation (photic-driving). Anecdotal evidence does suggest that presentation of low-frequency binaural auditory beats can elicit a variety of changes in the listener’s state of consciousness that might have a broad range of practical applications (5,7). For example, the presentation of binaural auditory beats in the delta and theta frequency ranges is said to be associated with enhanced creativity and improved sleep. Preliminary experimental studies suggest that binaural auditory beats in the EEG beta frequency range can enhance attention and memory task performance (3), and that those in the alpha frequency range may increase alpha EEG production and subjective relaxation (2).

A recent study examined the effects of delta and theta frequency binaural auditory beats on EEG spectral patterns in healthy volunteers. EEG spectra were compared between a period of wakeful rest and a period in which participants listened through stereo headphones to pure tones designed to produce binaural beats in the theta and delta range. During the stimulus period participants produced significantly less spectral power in the alpha and beta EEG bands and significantly more power in the theta and delta bands, evidence of possible EEG entrainment by the binaural beat stimuli. During stimulation participants reported subjective experiences similar to meditative, trance, or hypnogogic states.

Taken together, the anecdotal, clinical, and preliminary experimental evidence suggests that the presentation of binaural auditory beats may produce controllable changes in EEG and/or subjective states of consciousness. Only the most recent studies include sufficient experimental controls and can be considered as scientific investigations. Even so, the value of potential applications of a technology for self-control of EEG patterns and states of consciousness argues for continued investigation of the binaural beat phenomenon and its psychophysiological effects.

The present study was designed to investigate whether different patterns of binaural-beat stimulation could produce changes in level of arousal and alertness manifested in behavior and mood. A double-blind cross-over design was used to compare two distinct Patterns of binaural-beat signals, one containing binaural beats in the EEG-beta frequency range and the other binaural beats in the EEG-delta/theta range. These patterns were selected because these EEG frequency bands are typically associated with states of alertness versus drowsiness, and entrainment of these frequencies might thus enhance or impair alertness. The binaural-beat signals were presented continuously during the performance of a 30-min vigilance task that required continuous video monitoring and responses to infrequent targets. We predicted that presentation of binaural-beat signals in the EEG beta frequency range would elicit better task performance in this monotonous task (more correct detection of targets and fewer false alarms) than presentation of binaural beat signals that entrained EEG frequencies in the theta/ delta range. We also expected that differential stimulation would affect the mood changes associated with the monotonous task, especially those related to subjective alertness and fatigue.

 MATERIALS AND METHODS

 Subjects

 Volunteers were recruited by advertisement from the Duke University community. They were required to be in good health, have normal hearing and vision (corrected or uncorrected), and be free from acute illness or use of medications. Thirty-two people were recruited and 29 completed the protocol. This group had a mean age (±SD) of 32 (± IO) years with a range from 19 to 51 years. The group contained 19 females and 10 males; 20 whites, 8 blacks, and 1 Asian; 18 employed workers and 11 students. All volunteers were nonsmokers. Each received $30 for completion of the study.

Materials

Binaural beat stimulation. Binaural beat signals were presented stereophonically by cassette tape. Three different tapes were prepared as follows. All three tapes contained a background of “pink noise” with uniform amplitude in the frequency spectrum from 40-320 Hz and decreasing amplitude (12 db/octave) at frequencies above and below these limits. Tapes also contained carrier tones at 100, 200, 250, and 300 Hz, which had amplitudes 15 db above the amplitude of the pink noise. The tape constructed for the training session contained no binaural beat stimuli, but the tapes for the two experimental treatments did. For the delta/theta condition the 100-Hz tone was presented with a 1.5-Hz binaural beat, the 200 and 250 Hz tones were presented with 4-Hz binaural beats, and the 300-Hz tone was presented with no binaural beat.

Thus, this tape included binaural beats at 1.5 and 4 Hz. For the beta condition the 200-Hz tone was presented with a 16-Hz binaural beat and the 300-Hz tone was presented with a 24-Hz binaural beat. The 100 and 250-Hz tones were presented with no binaural beat. The tape for the beta condition contained binaural beats at 16 and 24 Hz. Subjectively the three tape recordings sounded exactly alike, described by subjects as similar to the constant monotonous roar of a waterfall or the sound inside a large propeller-driven airplane. The presence of binaural beats was very difficult to detect when the tapes were listened to by the experimenters, and none of the participants reported noticing them. The tapes were played to subjects through stereo headphones, and volume was set to a comfortable listening level.

Vigilance task A continuous performance vigilance task was administered using it personal computer (Compaq 386 SX), which contained a multifunction’ data acquisition and timing card (ADAI 100; Real Time Devices, State College, PA) configured to measure response times with a precision of I ms. The vigilance task was administered using a special-purpose computer program written by J. D. L. It can be summarized as follows.

The participant watched the VGA video monitor as individual stimuli of 5-cm height were displayed at a rate of 1/s and a duration of 100 ms. The stimuli were capital letters that were selected at random from a list of 20 capitals that excluded those with similar shapes (e.g. 0 and Q). On 10% of stimulus presentations, the previous letter was repeated. This repetition of a stimulus was the target for the participant to detect. The computer program presented 1 target in each block of 10 stimuli (every 10-s interval) to insure that 6 targets were presented each minute, although the position of the target within the block was random. The intervals between targets ranged from 0 to 18 stimuli. The participant pressed the spacebar of the keyboard as quickly as possible each time a target was detected. The total duration of the vigilance task was 30 min. Instructions emphasized the importance of continuous monitoring for targets, rapid responding, and the importance of maintaining good performance throughout the entire task. The computer program administered all stimuli and recorded the parameters of each stimulus trial. Response latency was measured for all keypresses and recorded with stimulus data for later analysis.

Mood assessment. The Profile of Mood States (POMS; EDITS, San Diego, CA) was used to assess changes in mood. The POMS contains 65 adjective rating items (O to 4 scale) that describe feelings people experience (e.g., friendly, tense, grouchy, etc.). Item ratings can be summarized on standard scales that represent six general moods: tension-anxiety; depression-dejection; anger-hostility; vigor-activity; fatigue-inertia; and confusion-bewilderment (4). This inventory was administered before and after the vigilance task to assess task-related changes in mood.

Procedure

 Participants were kept blind to the true purpose of the study. When volunteers were recruited, they were told that the study was intended to evaluate a new computerized vigilance task and to assess how stable performance was over several days. Throughout the study, they were told that task conditions were identical across days and that the tape-recorded sounds were intended to provide a uniform monotonous auditory background that would blackout any external sounds. Participants were not told about the differences in the treatment conditions or the presence of auditory binaural beats on the tape recordings. This deception was judged to be necessary to prevent expectation bias regarding treatment effects. Furthermore, keeping participants unaware of the presence of binaural-beat stimulation prevented the distraction of actively listening to the tape recordings in order to determine their content, which could help to maintain arousal during the task and interfere with the development of a vigilance decrement. Use of this deception was approved by the Medical Center Institutional Review Board, and participants were debriefed at the conclusion of the study.

Each volunteer took part in three experimental sessions that were identical except for the treatment condition. Sessions were scheduled beginning between 1300 and 1600 hours, and all sessions for a participant were scheduled at the same time of day. Participants were asked to abstain from recreational drugs and alcohol for at least 24 h prior to testing and to get a normal night’s sleep. Compliance was confirmed by self-report. The first experimental session was intended for training and to provide a stable level of performance for the two subsequent test sessions. The control tape recording, which contained the same sounds but no binaural beats, was presented during the training session. The beta and theta/delta treatment conditions were presented in the second and third sessions. The tape cassettes were blind-coded so that treatments were presented double-blind, and the order of treatments was counterbalanced across subjects.

Each session began with the completion of a short battery of questionnaires. The first session included completion of informed consent procedures followed by completion of demographic and health history forms. During the second and third sessions different psychological questionnaires were completed during this time. The POMS was completed at the end of this battery each day, immediately before the vigilance task, with instructions to describe feelings at that moment.

The computer program displayed instructions for the vigilance task on the monitor and presented samples of the stimuli. The experimenter reviewed the instructions with the participant, and the participant’s questions were answered. Participants then completed a ]-min practice/warm-up trial of the vigilance task, and performance feedback was provided upon completion. When the experimenter was convinced that the participant understood how to perform the task, the actual task was begun.

The participant performed the task while seated at a desk in a swivel chair. The room was dimly lit. The experimenter adjusted the stereo headphones and started the tape playback. Auditory volume was adjusted to a comfortable listening level for the participant that would block perception of external sounds. Then the experimenter left the room, and the participant began the 30-min vigilance task after a brief delay. The tape-recorded binaural-beat stimulation was presented continuously during the task. Immediately after completion of the task, the participant completed a second POMS to indicate how she or he felt at that moment. The experimenter reviewed a summary of performance to insure that instructions had been followed and reasonable levels of success obtained. However, participants received only general positive feedback each day.

 RESULTS

 Vigilance Performance

 Task performance was scored as the number of correct target detections (out of a possible 180 targets) and the number of false alarms (when a keypress response was made to a nontarget stimulus). The number of hits and false alarms in the beta and theta/ delta binaural beat conditions were compared by paired t-test. Because we proposed a directional hypothesis, that beta frequency beats would improve performance compared to theta/delta frequency beats, a one-tailed test was used to maximize statistical power from our sample.

A total of 180 targets were presented during the 30-min task Participants detected a significantly larger number of targets when exposed to the beta-frequency binaural beats (mean = 153.5, SD = 23.6) than when exposed to theta/delta-frequency binaural beats (mean = 147.6, SD = 34.7). The difference in the number of correct detections was 5.9 ± 3.4 (mean — SEM), which yielded t(28) = 1.7 (p < 0.05). In contrast, participants produced more false alarms in the theta/delta condition (mean = 8.7, SD = 12.2) than in the beta condition (mean = 6.6, SD = 9.4). The difference in false alarms was 2.0 — 0.9 (mean ± SEM), which yielded t(28) = 2.26 (p < 0.02). Thus, the binaural beat treatments had the predicted effects on vigilance task performance.

To determine whether the treatments had differential effects on performance decrements during the vigilance task, performance scores for six 5-min periods were analyzed with a two-condition (beta versus theta/delta) by 6-period repeated-measures analysis of variance, using Greenhouse-Geisser corrections. The effect of period was significant for correct detections (F(5, 135) = 7.63, p < 0.0008), but the condition by period interaction was not (F(5, 135) = 1.40, p < 0.24); Although there was a significant decrement in correct detections over time during the task, the rate of decrement did not differ significantly between the beta and theta/delta conditions. For false alarms, neither the period effect or the interaction were significant (both p > 0.20).

 Subjective Mood

 POMS scale scores were evaluated by two condition X two period repeated-measures analysis of variance, in which the interaction tested the hypothesis that the binaural-beat stimuli would alter how the vigilance task affected mood. The main effect of period represented the effects of the vigilance task itself, regardless of treatment. We did not propose directional hypotheses for each of the six mood scales of the POMS, and thus used this omnibus approach to detect treatment effects.

As demonstrated by significant interactions, the binaural-beat condition affected scores for confusion/bewilderment (F(l, 28) = 7.30, p < 0.01) and fatigue/inertia (F(l, 28) = 4.07, p < 0.05), with a trend observed in scores for depression/dejection (F(l, 28) = 3.81, p < 0.06). Scores for confusion/bewilderment rose more from the beginning to the end of the vigilance task when the participant listened to theta/delta binaural beats (mean = 1.9, SE = 0.4, p < 0.0001), than when beta binaural beats were presented (mean = 0.9, SE = 0.4, p < 0.03). Moreover, scores for fatigue/inertia also rose more when the participant listened to theta/delta binaural beats (mean = 3.6, SE = 0.7, p < 0.0001), than when beta binaural beats were presented (mean = 2.3, SE = 0.8, p < 0.005). In contrast, depression/dejection scores rose slightly (mean = 0.3, SE = 0.2) when participants listened to the theta/delta binaural beats during the vigilance task and dropped slightly (mean = -0.4, SE = 0.4) when they listened to beta binaural beats.

Scores for vigor/activity did not contain a significant condition by period interaction, although there was a significant period effect (F(l, 28) = 25.02, p < 0.0001). Scores dropped from the beginning to the end of the task (mean = -2.9).

 DISCUSSION

 The results of this study provide evidence that presentation of simple binaural auditory beat stimuli during a 30-min vigilance task can affect both the task performance and the changes in mood associated with the task. The observed effects were consistent with our predictions regarding differential effects on alertness and mood. Binaural beats in the beta EEG frequency range were associated with relative improvements in target detection and reduction in the number of false alarms compared to binaural beats in the theta/delta EEG frequency range. Moreover, beta binaural beats were associated with smaller increases in task-related confusion and fatigue compared to theta/delta beats, and the two conditions had different effects on scores for depression/dejection.

Scores on the confusion/bewilderment scale increased under both conditions, but rose significantly more during theta/delta frequency stimulation. This scale includes the items “confused,” I unable to concentrate,” “muddled,” “bewildered,” “efficient” (scored in reverse). “forgetful,” and “uncertain about things.” It appears to represent “a self-report of cognitive efficiency” (4). Changes observed in this study suggest that the theta/delta binaural beats produced a subjective impairment in the ability to think clearly. Performance of the vigilance task also increased scores for fatigue/inertia in both conditions, but more so for the theta/delta condition. This scale describes “a mood of weariness, inertia, and low energy level” (4) and includes “worn-out,” “listless,” “fatigued,” “exhausted,” “sluggish,” “weary,” and “bushed” as its items. The depression/dejection scale represents depressed mood accompanied by a sense of inadequacy, and includes “unhappy,” “sorry,” “sad,” “miserable,” “hopeless,” “unworthy,” “discouraged,” “desperate,” and “worthless” among its items. Together these scales suggest that the negative changes in mood produced by a monotonous task may have been partially ameliorated by the presentation of beta-frequency binaural beats.

These effects on behavior and mood were observed in the absence of participant expectations, and experimental controls ruled out other “placebo” effects. Not only were participants unaware of their treatment condition, they were unaware that different binaural-beat treatments were being presented during the three days of testing. Although experimenters knew the true nature of the study, they were careful to maintain the cover story throughout the study. Moreover, they were also blind to the order in which the experimental treatments were administered and thus could not systematically bias the results.

We presume that the behavioral and mood effects were mediated by changes in level of central nervous system arousal induced by binaural-beat stimulation. It is plausible that these signals entrained corresponding EEG frequencies and increased relative EEG spectral power in the beta or theta/delta bands. Such an interpretation is consistent with earlier studies that suggest apparent EEG changes in response to binaural beat stimulation (2), although the evidence of such effects remains preliminary. The present study lacked EEG measurements that could confirm this interpretation, but future studies can test this hypothesis directly.

It is interesting to note that similar changes in performance of a vigilance task were observed when normal volunteers were trained using biofeedback to increase or suppress EEG theta activity (1). Those trained experimental groups did differ both in theta activity and in vigilance performance during testing, and suppression of theta activity during the task was associated with relatively better vigilance performance. Perhaps binaural-beat stimulation provides alternative means of suppressing theta activity, or enhancing beta Activity, to enhance performance. If so, it has the distinct advantage that it requires neither extensive training nor intent to self-control EEG for its successful application.

The observations in the present study have interesting implications. If binaural beat auditory stimulation can influence behavior and mood, then such stimulation may have useful applications for the self-control of arousal, attention, and performance. There may be potential applications of these performance enhancing signals in situations that demand high levels of continuous sustained attention and performance, such as commercial highway driving or air traffic control. Performance enhancing stimulation may prove useful in other occupational tasks as well. Conversely, binaural-beat stimulation that decreases arousal may have applications in the treatment of insomnia or stress.

The phenomenon of binaural auditory beat stimulation and its psychophysiological consequences deserves further study. Additional controlled studies will be required to determine what behavioral, affective, and cognitive effects different patterns of binaural beats might have and how any associated changes in physiology, behavior, or subjective experience might be used. Little is known about the mechanisms that may be involved in the transduction of simple auditory signals into changes in mood and performance demonstrated here. However, the results of this study demonstrate clearly that simple binaural-beat auditory stimulation can influence psychomotor and affective processes, even when people are unaware that such signals are being presented.

 REFERENCES

 1. Beatty, J.; Greenberg, A.; Deibler, W. P.; O’ Hanlon, J. F. Operant control of occipital theta rhythm affects performance in a radar monitoring task. Science 183:871-873; 1974.

2. Foster, D. S., EEG and subjective correlates of alpha-frequency binaural-beat stimulation combined with alpha biofeedback. 1996:https:Hwww.Monroelnstitute.org/research/alpha-binaural-beat.html

3. Kennerly, R. C., An empirical investigation into the effect of beta frequency binaural-beat audio signals on four measures of human memory. 1994:https://www.MonroeInstitute.org/research/humanmemory-kennerly.html

4. McNair, D. M.; Lorr, M.; Droppleman, L. F. EdITS manual for the profile of mood states. San Diego: EdITS;1992.

5. Monroe, R. A. Far journeys. New York: Doubleday; 1985.

6. Oster, G. Auditory beats in the brain. Sci. Am. 229:94-102; 1973.

7. Russell, R., ed. Using the whole brain. Hampton Roads Publishing Co.: Norfolk, VA; 1993.

Auditory Brain Wave Stimulation in Treating Alcoholic Depression

A Study of Cognitive Substance Abuse Treatment With and Without Auditory Guidance
by Gilbert O. Sanders, EdD, and Raymond O. Waldkoetter, EdD

At the time of this study Gilbert Sanders was in charge of the Chemical Dependency Unit, Mount Edgecumbe Hospital, Sitka, Alaska. As a counseling psychologist he had extensive experience with the substance abuse issues confronted by Vietnam veterans. Dr. Sanders supervised the chemical depend-ency unit at Leavenworth Prison, Leavenworth, Kansas, for several years and is presently (1997) assigned to the Alaskan Native Medical Center in Anchorage. Raymond Waldkoetter, the program codeveloper, presented the following paper at the 1996 Monroe Institute Professional Seminar. Dr. Waldkoetter is a member of The Monroe Institute Board of Advisors and a consulting psychologist with an inclusive background in research psychology. He has a special interest in Hemi-Sync applications for combating substance addiction and for improving the environment of patients in adult care homes.

Little information is currently available on Native Alaskans’ recovery rates following in-hospital treatment for substance abuse (SA). It is known that many of the individuals entering such treatment indicate that they are suffering from numerous depression symptoms. This study, then, is intended to

  1. establish baseline data on the prevalence of self-assessed depression in Native Alaskan/Americans (NAA) entering SA treatment;
  2. examine the effectiveness of cognitive/self-regulation therapy, augmented by selected auditory guidance tapes in reducing self-reported stress;
  3. obtain data on the success of the given therapy.

Treatment for SA has largely followed the twelve-step model initially developed by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous in the late 1930s. Many treatment programs have been in freestanding facilities, with treatment staffs comprised almost exclusively of recovering alcoholics. Moreover, in-hospital SA treatment has at best a mixed record of success. In the late 1970s and mid 1980s, the standard stay in freestanding and hospital programs averaged about thirty days, but rising costs and other operational problems led to the decline of such facilities. At the present time, SA treatment is frequently limited to fourteen to twenty-one days. Posttreatment success rates are in the range of 20-30 percent six to twelve months after treatment. At best, only one person in three entering treatment can expect to remain substance free for one year after treatment. This rate, however, is nearly double that expected for Native Americans. Indian Health Service records of treatment success have indicated recovery rates for Native Americans are only in the range of 15-17 percent compared with the general population (Sanders 1995).

Recently there have been some new developments in SA treatment. Peniston and Kulkosky (1989) published a study on alpha-theta brain-wave training with alcoholics which covered therapy and thirteen months of posttreatment monitoring and indicated an 80 percent recovery rate. It was the key finding of this study that brain-wave training in a biofeedback schedule produced profound increases in alpha and theta brain rhythms and decreases in self-assessed depression during the course of treatment. This biobehavioral approach to chronic alcoholism appears a promising alternative to traditional medical treatment. Also in 1989, the Federal Bureau of Prisons began to offer a cognitive behavioral program at several correctional institutions that incorporated elements of transactional analysis and rational behavioral therapy (Sanders 1989). This program differed noticeably from various twelve-step programs by focusing almost exclusively on having the individual take responsibility for his actions. Initial data showed several positive results, such as reduction in aggression and other negative behavior by inmates. But, since most hospital and residential SA treatment is still based on the twelve-step model, further research is needed to examine effective alternatives.

It is recognized that both audible and inaudible sounds and tones affect human thought and emotional conditions. Where perception may cause prolonged adverse arousal, ill health can result. Conversely, the effects of stress reduction provided by utilizing certain audio-technology can help improve mental and physiological responses. In this study, the Monroe (1982) audio-technology process was applied to augment the cognitive/self-regulation therapy of the experimental group. This process has already demonstrated positive effects in changing aspects of consciousness and of learning behavior. For example, “visualization” and “imagery” can be enhanced when the chosen intentional instructions to the mind/body and spontaneously occurring answers from the unconscious are being supported by the auditory guidance process. The Monroe process relies on a patented audio-technology (Hemi-Sync) to facilitate self-directed control of different states of human consciousness. The process supports bringing the brain hemispheres into a synchronized state with blended sound patterns in order to activate various stress reducing brain-wave frequencies (i.e., alpha, theta, and delta). The only appreciable difference in the Control Group (CG) and the Experimental Group (EG) schedules for this study was the augmentation of EG therapy with Hemi-Sync.

Method

The sample in this study was initially composed of twenty- eight male subjects who were treated for SA – essentially alcoholism – at the Chemical Dependency Unit (CDU) of Mount Edgecumbe Hospital, Sitka, Alaska. They were all of NAA ancestry and from a range of socioeconomic classes (lower, middle, and upper-middle). All subjects met the following criteria:

  1. alcohol dependence based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV) published by the American Psychiatric Association;
  2. medical records indicating at least three or more years of chronic alcoholism; and
  3. none were on psychotropic medications for psychiatric problems during the course of the treatment program.

The CDU program at Mount Edgecumbe Hospital includes a four-day admission period and five weeks of chemical dependency therapy and education. The admission period allows time for psychological assessment, social history, educational assessment, medical and dental treatment, detoxification as needed, wellness orientation, and program and support group orientation.

The treatment period begins the Monday following admission with each weekday beginning at 5:00 A.M. All program participants are then taken to the hospital’s wellness center for exercises at 5:30 A.M. in accord with physical therapy/wellness staff assignments for individual programs. At 6:30 A.M. participants return to the unit shower; breakfast is at 7:00 A.M.; and from about 7:30-7:45 A.M. each individual completes assigned chores and gets any needed medications from the staff nurse. A morning meditation period is at 7:45 A.M., and other chores and laundry requiring more attention are begun at 8:00 A.M. Individual and native art therapy begin at 8:40 A.M. with each participant having each form of therapy, a morning break, and then, normally, an education group until noon covering a variety of topics – medical aspects of SA, nutritional aspects of SA, HIV/AIDS education, etc. Following lunch and a short break the CG has “genograms” (tribal family diagrams) and/or group therapy conducted from 1:00 to 3:00 P.M. Genograms are designed to provide insight into the substance abuse dynamic and its context in hope of inspiring a sense of pride and personal responsibility for change. For the EG the auditory guidance training was conducted at 1:00 P.M. followed by “genograms” and/or group therapy at 2:00 P.M. A break was given from 3:00 to 3:30 P.M. for both groups followed by cognitive skill training. Dinner was served at 5:00 P.M. and was followed by a variety of evening activities, often including a support group meeting, and then “lights out” at 10:30 P.M. Weekend activities and education followed the same schedule, except that daily activities started at 7:00 A.M.

Subjects were not randomly assigned to the CG or EG. Random selection for treatment was considered impractical due to limited CDU and hospital staffing and because the majority of patients were being treated by Alaskan court order. The CG were under treatment from March to May 1995, and the EG were treated from July to October 1995. The CG attended the standard five-week CDU program, while the EG attended the same five-week program plus auditory guidance training. Both groups basically adhered to the standard CDU individual and psychoeducational therapy schedule, with only the EG receiving the auditory guidance exposure. Various individual and operational problems reduced the total number of subjects from twenty-eight to twenty-four — fifteen CG and nine EG.

Briefly, the auditory guidance sessions were conducted with subjects reporting at 1:00 P.M. to the group therapy room each weekday following a thirty-minute (grounds pass) walk. An introduction was given explaining the sounds to expect, such as ocean waves, birds, running water, or music (flute), and verbal narrative. The six tapes in the album created for this study were chosen by a panel at The Monroe Institute to enhance the NAA concept of well-being and reduce or discourage addictive behavior. A supporting brochure (Waldkoetter and Johnson 1995) was prepared to guide an “addiction change and recreation program.” The audiotapes chosen for the album were Morning Exercise, H-Plus De-Hab, Energy Walk, Moment of Revelation, Metamusic Winds Over the World, and Mind Food Surf. Previous studies have suggested that tape effects are cumulative and different for each individual, so that after initial exposure the tape sequence may be varied in keeping with individual choice (Waldkoetter 1983; Waldkoetter and Vandivier 1992). Two of the six tapes were preferred by the NAA subjects — Winds over the World and Surf — since these strongly evoked cultural and locale imagery. The subjects were given the tape introduction and asked to get into a comfortable position, with most lying on the floor using the available pillows. The group therapy room lights were dimmed. Subjects were instructed: “Let the events of today briefly leave your thoughts. For the next few moments you will hear only the sounds and voices [if there was a narrative] on the tape. Relax and listen. You will not be distracted by any sounds or noises.” The given audiocassette was played completely without interruptions. At the end of the tape a wake-up countdown was given (if not on the tape), progressively waking the subjects by suggesting more energy was flowing through them from their feet to their heads, and this energy was making them feel “light and alive, full of energy and completely relaxed.” After the lights were turned up subjects were asked to “slowly get up, making no quick movements, retaining the relaxed feeling and energy gained during the exercise.” A short debriefing session was then conducted to determine the effectiveness of the exercise and to provide an opportunity to report any “imagery.”

Subjects had received two proven psychological measures used for the standard five-week CDU program as pre- and post-treatment indicators. These were the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory 2 (MMPI2) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) used to help determine the extent to which this study’s purposes were met (Graham 1993; Beck 1987). A special effort was made to follow up subjects’ behaviors and collect any relapse data for a one-year period following program completion as a measure of possible program success.

Results and Discussion

The MMPI2 was selected to measure depression as well as other known personality factors related to SA. The MMPI2 scores from admission for both the CG and EG were assessed to determine if any significant differences existed between the two groups prior to treatment. A series of “T tests” were calculated for the three validity scales and each of the ten primary clinical scales. Of the three validity and ten clinical scales there was only one scale — Masculinity-Femininity (MF) — where a significant difference existed between the CG and EG. It was concluded that with this sole exception, there was no difference between the CG and EG as measured by the MMPI2 prior to commencing treatment.

The MMPI2 Depression (D) scale produced a posttreatment significant difference with the T value of 2.06, p=.02 and p<.05, the accepted level of statistical significance, with a CG mean of 56.33 and EG mean of 46.56. The number of subjects (N) was fifteen and nine, respectively, as stated earlier. High scores indicate depressive symptoms and suicidal verbalizations. Substance abusers try to relieve such symptoms by self-medication. A significant difference also was found between posttreatment groups on the Hysteria (Hy) scale with the T value of 2.14, p=.02, a CG mean of 52.73 and an EG mean of 43.33. This scale indicates problems in the ability to handle stress, and high scorers are often diagnosed with panic disorder, typical for SA. As previously stated, there was a significant difference on the MF scale for CG and EG at pretreatment. A significant difference between groups at posttreatment does not yield to ready interpretation with the T value of 3.32, p=.0001, a CG mean of 48.93 and an EG mean of 35.55. This scale may be confounded by the CG having more sex-role concerns evolving during therapy and the severity of overall symptoms. A significant difference was also obtained between posttreatment scores on the Paranoia (Pa) scale with the T value of 2.27, p=.02, a CG mean of 64.53 and an EG mean of 51.55. Individuals with higher scores tend to be highly suspicious and overly sensitive, also typical for SA. A further significant difference was found between the groups on the Psychasthenia (Pt) scale with the T value of 1.78, p=.04, a CG mean of 59.87 and an EG mean of 50.78. Higher scores here indicate feelings of internal turmoil, lack of self-confidence, and concentration problems, other common SA traits.

On five of the ten MMPI2 clinical scales, significant differences existed between the posttreatment CG and EG as indicated above. Individuals with addictive disorders frequently show elevated scores on these scales. This small sample study indicates that cognitive/self-regulation therapy with structured auditory guidance may reduce reports of distress in these areas significantly more than cognitive/self-regulation therapy alone. It is interesting to note that the EG’s scores on eight of the ten clinical scales had a posttreatment decrease, while the CG had only one. This gave a tentative significant difference using chi-squared (X2 [1, N=10] = 5.00, p<.05).

The BDI — as mentioned earlier — was administered to all subjects, with a significant difference observed between these groups prior to treatment: CG mean of 16.82 and EG mean of 12.09. BDI scores in the range of 10-18 are indicative of mild to moderate depression. Since the groups were initially different, no direct comparison is feasible. Both groups, however, had significantly lower scores at posttreatment: CG mean of 10.70 and EG mean of 5.63. It may be observed that cognitive/self-regulation therapy alone, as well as that therapy augmented by auditory guidance, reduced self-reported depressive symptoms in the NAA male sample in the SA program. Thus, while the BDI did not appear sensitive enough to facilitate direct CG and EG comparisons in this study, it did indicate favorable progress in reducing depression symptoms in these groups.

An attempt to make six-month follow-up comparisons of the CG and EG was performed. Data showed that the CG spent the mean monthly amount of $604.17 on SA before treatment and the EG spent $937.50. The $333.33 difference between groups was not significant due largely to the variance within each group. There was a significant difference from pre- to posttreatment in the amounts spent on SA in both the CG and EG (but not between groups) with the CG spending $105.83 mean/monthly and the EG $178.33.

The CG reported the mean current number of days without SA as 73.58 while the EG reported 116.67. The positive difference of 43.09 days between groups did not prove significant — most likely due to the sample size for each group. The longest mean period without SA increased for both groups with the CG reaching 98.58 posttreatment days and the EG 118.67. Again, although the difference is not statistically significant, the positive trend is noted. Even with the small follow-up of twelve and nine per group, the CG reports reflected a total abstinence success rate of 23 percent and the EG 35 percent when projected for one year. These percentages, though very limited, parallel favorable success rates sought in NAA therapy. An actual six-month follow-up showed the CG (N=12) had 33 percent (N=4) attaining six months sobriety. The EG (N=9) had 55 percent (N=5) with six months sobriety. Owing to the difficulties of insuring consistent posttreatment support in the home environment, EG members were allowed to retain and use the Hemi-Sync albums during the follow-up period.

This small group study of the effects of cognitive/self- regulation therapy augmented with auditory guidance on NAAs in SA treatment and six-month and projected one-year posttreatment behavior assessments indicates the following: mean scores on four MMPI2 clinical scales (depression, hysteria, paranoia, and psychasthenia) clearly relevant to SA were significantly reduced in comparison to cognitive/self-regulation therapy alone; and both therapeutic approaches significantly reduced self-reported depression as measured by the BDI. Thus, the MMPI2 and the BDI supported the study purpose of establishing baseline data on the prevalence of self-assessed depression in NAAs entering SA treatment. The value of auditory guidance training appeared confirmed somewhat in reducing self-reported stress as measured primarily by the MMPI2 and — to a lesser degree — the BDI. As was discussed above, only limited data were obtained on the “success” of augmenting cognitive/ self-regulation therapy with auditory guidance training. There were some indications that adding auditory guidance may help reduce the monthly amount spent by NAAs failing to refrain from SA, lengthen the period that NAAs remain abstinent, and increase the percentage of total abstinence for NAAs completing SA programming.

References

Beck, A. T. 1987. Beck Depression Inventory Manual. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, Inc.
Graham, J. R. 1993. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory 2: Assessing personality and psychopathology. New York: Oxford University Press.
Monroe, R. A. 1982. The Hemi-Sync process. Monroe Institute bulletin #PR 31380H. Nellysford VA.
Peniston, E. G., and Kulkosky, P. J. 1989. Alpha-theta brainwave training and beta-endorphin levels in alcoholics. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 13:271-79.
Sanders, G. O. 1989. A cognitive behavioral program in federal prisons. Unpublished manuscript. Leavenworth, Ks.
Sanders, G. O. 1995. Personal communication. Mount Edgecumbe Hospital, Sitka AK.
Waldkoetter, R. O. 1983. The use of audio-guided stress reduction to enhance performance. Paper presented at the 25th Annual Conference of the Military Testing Association, Gulf Shores AL.
Waldkoetter, R. O., and Johnson, P. C. 1995. The addiction change and recreation program: A personal redirection brochure (draft). Unpublished manuscript. London KY.
Waldkoetter, R. O., and Vandivier, P. L. 1992. Auditory guidance in officer level training. Paper presented at the 34th Annual Conference of the Military Testing Association, San Diego CA.

Inducing States of Consciousness with a Binaural Beat Technology

 

Proceedings of the Eighth International Symposium on New Science, pp. 11-15
© 1997 by The International Association for New Science

 

F.HOLMES ATWATER

Research Director

The Monroe Institute, 62 Roberts Mountain Road, Faber, VA 22938-2317

Abstract — Altering consciousness to provide a wide range of beneficial effects (stress-reducing relaxation, improved sleep, intuitive, creative, meditative, healing, and expanded-learning states, etc.) necessarily involves either changing levels of arousal or cognitive content or both. The extended reticular-thalamic activating system model suggests a neural mechanism responsible for regulating generalized levels of arousal (basic rest-activity cycle, sleep cycles, ultradian rhythms, etc.) as well as behavior- or cognition-specific patterns of arousal. The cortical attributes or contents of consciousness are the result of social-psychological conditioning and elemental cognitive acuity. These ambient factors of consciousness (arousal and content) provide us with a first-person experience or awareness. Effective induction of propitious states of consciousness, therefore, requires a multidimensional approach involving sensory-information stimuli, social-psychological conditioning, and education. Binaural beating, a sensory-information stimulus, provides potential consciousness-altering information to the reticular-thalamic activating system which in turn alters arousal states, attentional focus, and level of awareness (crucial elements of consciousness itself). Integrated with other sensory-information techniques, social-psychological conditioning tools, and educational curriculum, binaural beats can provide access to a variety of beneficial applications and first-person experiences of expanded states of consciousness.

Introduction

States of consciousness form as a synthesis of discrete, yet cortically distributed, levels of arousal combined with specific contents. The extended reticular-thalamic activating system (ERTAS) is responsible for regulating generalized levels of arousal as well as individual explicit patterns of arousal (Newman 1997). The specific contents of consciousness are said to be neurologically cortical. These cortical attributes are the result of social-psychological conditioning and elemental cognitive acuity. Effective induction of propitious altered states of consciousness requires, therefore, a multidimensional approach involving sensory-information stimuli, social-psychological conditioning, and education. Chief among the sensory-information techniques for inducing beneficial altered states is the procedure of placing an individual into an environment of greatly reduced stimulation for brief periods (less than 2 hours). The two most frequently used methods are lying on a bed in a dark, soundproof room and flotation (dry or wet) in a buoyant liquid at skin temperature in a light-free, soundproof chamber (Turner & Fine 1985). The ganzfeld technique is another effective sensory-information method to induce advantageous altered states of consciousness (Hutchinson 1986). During these periods of restricted sensory impetus the ERTAS is particularly vulnerable to other stimuli. Sensory information such as aroma, color, music, touch, and binaural beating can all serve to further direct changes in consciousness via cortico-thalamic adaptation. Because consciousness is a synthesis of both arousal and content, altered states of consciousness can be further inspired by changes in a percipient’s social-psychological conditioning and cognitive skills. Social-psychological conditioning tools can modify attitude, expectancy, motivation, etc., and educational approaches can expand cognitive skills.

The sensory-stimulus known as binaural beating can be effective in inducing altered states of consciousness when used in conjunction with a multidimensional process of social-psychological conditioning and education. Individuals in an environment of restricted stimulation listen to a combination of multiplexed audio binaural beats that are mixed with music, pink sound, and/or assorted natural sounds. Pink sound is “white noise” (like the hiss sound from a television after a station has stopped transmitting) equalized for human hearing with lower-frequency components amplified and higher-frequency components reduced to create a more pleasing natural sound. Binaural-beat stimulation, coupled with the effects of the other procedures within the process outlined above, appears to regulate arousal states and encourage first-person experiences in altered states of consciousness by providing information to the ERTAS.

Binaural Beats and The Physiology of the Brain

Binaural beating is associated with an electoencephalographic (EEG) frequency-following response in the brain that has been demonstrated by Oster (1973) and in the context of hearing-acuity research (Hink et al. 1980). Many other studies have demonstrated the presence of a frequency-following response to auditory stimuli, recorded at the vertex of the human brain (top of the head). This EEG activity was termed “frequency-following response” because its period (cycles per second) corresponds to the fundamental frequency of the stimulus (Smith, Marsh, & Brown 1975). Stated plainly, if the audio stimulus is 24 Hz the resulting measured EEG will show a 24 Hz frequency-following response using appropriate time-domain averaging protocols. This frequency-following response signal is, however, very small and represents only a small portion of the overall EEG and is not, in and of itself, representative of a change in consciousness.

Brainwaves and related states of consciousness are said to be regulated by the brain’s reticular formation stimulating the thalamus and cortex. This extended reticular-thalamic activation system (ERTAS) is implicated in a variety of functions associated with consciousness (Newman 1997). The word reticular means “net-like” and the neural reticular formation itself is a large, net-like diffuse area of the brainstem (Anch et al. 1988). The reticular activating system (RAS) interprets and reacts to information from internal stimuli, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs as well as external sensory stimuli by regulating arousal states, attentional focus, and the level of awareness – critical elements of consciousness itself (Empson 1986; Tice & Steinberg 1989). How we interpret, respond, and react to information then, is managed by the brain’s reticular formation stimulating the thalamus and cortex, and controlling attentiveness and level of arousal (Empson 1986). “It would seem that the basic mechanisms underlying consciousness are closely bound up with the brainstem reticular system . . .” (Henry 1992). In the ERTAS model, binaural beats engender changes in rhythmic EEG patterns throughout the cortex and our first-person experience of consciousness as cortico-thalamic projections adapt to information (the binaural-beat waveform) coming to the midbrain reticular formation.

Binaural beats were discovered in 1839 by a German experimenter, H. W. Dove. The human ability to “hear” binaural beats appears to be the result of evolutionary adaptation. Binaural beats can be detected by humans when carrier tones are below approximately 1000 Hz (Oster 1973). The sensation of “hearing” binaural beats occurs when two coherent sounds of nearly similar frequencies (the carrier tones) are presented, one to each ear, and the brain detects phase differences between these sounds. This phase difference normally provides directional information to the listener but when presented with stereo headphones or speakers the brain integrates the two signals, producing a sensation of a third sound called the binaural beat. Perceived binaural beating appears to originate in the brainstem’s superior olivary nucleus, the site of contralateral integration of auditory input (Oster 1973). This auditory sensation is neurologically routed to the reticular formation (Swann et al. 1982) and simultaneously volume conducted to the cortex where it can be objectively measured as a frequency-following response (Oster 1973; Smith, Marsh, & Brown 1975; Marsh, Brown & Smith 1975; Smith et al. 1978; Hink et al. 1980). The objectively measured frequency-following response provides proof that the sensation of binaural beating has neurological efficacy.

Applications

Group interaction, counseling, guided visual imagery, affirmation, introspection, reframing, and goal orientation are all safe and effective methods of modifying an individual’s social-psychological conditioning and limiting belief systems. Within the ERTAS model, projections between the pre-frontal cortex and the medial dorsal nucleus as well as collateral interaction with the nucleus reticularis (Newman 1997) allow for a change in social-psychological conditioning to not only directly alter the content of consciousness but also alter the arousal level associated with such content.

Cognitive skills can be enhanced through educational programs such as directed reading, lectures, multimedia presentations, planned group discussions, etc. Equipped with a greater cognitive acumen, individuals are capable of experiencing expanded points of view, i.e., new thoughts, unique ideas, wide-ranging concepts (the contents of consciousness). Cortico-thalamic adaptation of these new perspectives results in the first-person experience of propitious states of consciousness.

Binaural beats can be easily generated at the low frequencies (< 30 Hz) that are characteristic of the EEG spectrum (Oster 1973; Atwater 1997). Binaural beats in the delta (1 to 4 Hz) and theta (4 to 8 Hz) ranges have been associated with reports of relaxed, meditative, and creative states (Hiew 1995), sensory integration (Morris 1990), and used as an aid to falling asleep (Wilson 1990; Rhodes 1993). Exposure to audio-guidance training using lower-frequency binaural beats in concert with cognitive therapy resulted in decreased depressive symptoms in alcoholic patients (Waldkoetter & Sanders 1997). Binaural beats in the alpha frequencies (8 to 12 Hz) have increased alpha brainwaves (Foster 1990) and binaural beats in the beta frequencies (typically 16 to 24 Hz) have been associated with reports of increased concentration or alertness (Monroe 1985), improved memory (Kennerly 1994), and increases in focused attention in mentally retarded adults (Guilfoyle & Carbone 1996).

The reported uses of this binaural-beat method for accessing propitious states of consciousness range from relaxation, meditation, stress reduction, pain management, health care (Carter 1993), and enriched learning environments to enhanced intuition, remote viewing (McMoneagle 1993), telepathy, and out-of-body experience. The effectiveness of binaural beats in engendering state changes is supported by the consistent reports of thousands of users, as well as the documentation of physiological changes associated with its use.

In objective, measurable terms EEG-based research provides evidence of binaural beat’s influence on consciousness. Since the RAS regulates cortical EEG (Swann et al. 1982), monitoring EEG chronicles performance of the RAS. There have been several free-running EEG studies (Foster 1990; Sadigh 1990; Hiew 1995, among others) which suggest that binaural beating induces alterations in EEG. Because the RAS is responsible for regulating EEG (Swann et al. 1982; Empson 1986), these studies document measurable changes in RAS function during exposure to binaural beats.

Summary

The binaural-beat technology used in conjunction with a multidimensional approach of social-psychological conditioning and education provides access to many beneficial first-person experiences of consciousness. This safe and effective binaural-beat process offers a wide variety of applications which include, but are not limited to: relaxation, meditation, enhanced creativity, intuition development, enriched learning, improved sleep, wellness, and the personal exploration of expanded states of consciousness.

References

Anch, A.M., Browman, C.P., Mitler, M.M. & Walsh, J.K. (1988). Sleep: A Scientific Perspective. (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall), pp. 96-97.

Atwater, F.H. (1997). The Hemi-Sync process. https://www.MonroeInstitute.org/research/

Carter, G. (1993). Healing Myself. (Norfolk: Hampton Roads Publishing Company).

de Quincey, C. (1994). Consciousness all the way down? In Journal of Consciousness Studies, 1 (2), pp. 217-229.

Empson, J. (1986). Human Brainwaves: The Psycological Significance of the Electroencephalogram. (London: The Macmillan Press Ltd.)

Foster, D. S. (1990). EEG and subjective correlates of alpha frequency binaural beat stimulation combined with alpha biofeedback. Hemi-Sync Journal, VIII (2), pp. 1-2.

Guilfoyle, G. & Carbone, D. (1996). The facilitation of attention utilizing therapeutic sounds. Presented at the New York State Association of Day Service Providers Symposium, October 18, 1996, Albany, New York.

Henry, J.P. (1992). Instincts, Archetypes and Symbols: An Approach to the Physiology of Religious Experience. (Dayton: College Press).

Hiew, C. C. (1995). Hemi-Sync into creativity. Hemi-Sync Journal, XIII (1), pp. 3-5.

Hink, R. F., Kodera, K., Yamada, O., Kaga, K., & Suzuki, J. (1980). Binaural interaction of a beating frequency following response. Audiology, 19, pp. 36-43.

Hutchison, M. (1986). Megabrain. (Beech Tree Books). pp. 261-281.

Kennerly, R. C. (1994). An empirical investigation into the effect of beta frequency binaural beat audio signals on four measures of human memory. (Department of Psychology, West Georgia College, Carrolton, Georgia).

McMoneagle, J. (1993). Mind Trek. (Norfolk: Hampton Roads Publishing Company).

Marsh, J.T., Brown, W.S., & Smith, J.C. (1975). Far-field recorded frequency-following responses: Correlates of low pitch auditory perception in humans. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 38, pp. 113-119.

Monroe, R. A. (1985). Far Journeys. (New York: Doubleday).

Morris, S.E. (1990). Hemi-Sync and the facilitation of sensory integration. Hemi-Sync Journal, VIII(4), pp. 5-6.

Newman, J. (1997). Putting the puzzle together Part I: Toward a general theory of the neural correlates of consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 47-66.

Oster, G. (1973). Auditory beats in the brain. Scientific American, 229, pp. 94-102.

Rhodes, L. (1993). Use of the Hemi-Sync super sleep tape with a preschool-aged child. Hemi-Sync Journal, XI(4), pp. iv-v.

Sadigh, M. (1990). Effects of Hemi-Sync on electrocortical activity. https://www.MonroeInstitute.org/research/

Smith, J. C., Marsh, J. T., & Brown, W. S. (1975). Far-field recorded frequency-following responses: Evidence for the locus of brainstem sources. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 39, pp. 465-472.

Smith, J.C., Marsh, J.T., Greenberg, S., & Brown, W.S. (1978). Human auditory frequency-following responses to a missing fundamental. Science, 201, pp. 639-641.

Swann, R., Bosanko, S., Cohen, R., Midgley, R., & Seed, K.M. (1982). The Brain – A User’s Manual. p. 92. (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons).

Tice, L. E. & Steinberg, A. (1989). A Better World, A Better You. pp. 57-62. (New Jersey: Prentice Hall).

Turner, J. W. & Fine, T. H. (1985) Effects of restricted environmental stimulation therapy (REST) on self-control of heart rate in Health and Clinical Psychology pp. 477-490. (Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. North-Holland).

Waldkoetter, R. O. & Sanders, G. O. (1997). Auditory brain wave stimulation in treating alcoholic depression. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 84, p. 226.

Wilson, E. S. (1990). Preliminary study of the Hemi-Sync sleep processor. Colorado Association for Psychophysiologic Research.

Accessing Anomalous States of Consciousness with a Binaural Beat Technology

Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 11. No. 3, pp. 263-274, 1997 0892-3310/97  © 1997 Society for Scientific Exploration

F.HOLMES ATWATER, The Monroe Institute,  Faber, VA 22938

Abstract

Exposure to binaural beats in an environment of restricted stimulation coupled with a guidance process can safely provide access to and experiences in many propitious states of consciousness. This method requires a unique combination of well-understood psycho-physiological inductive techniques with the addition of a refined binaural-beat technology. Binaural beats provide potential consciousness-altering information to the brain’s reticular activating system. The reticular activating system in turn interprets and reacts to this information by stimulating the thalamus and cortex thereby altering arousal states, attentional focus, and the level of awareness, i.e., the elements of consciousness itself. This effective binaural-beat process offers a wide variety of beneficial applications and vehicle for the exploration of expanded states of consciousness.

Keywords: consciousness – altered states

Introduction

The audio phenomenon known as binaural beating can be used to access altered states of consciousness. This is done through a process in which individuals in an environment of restricted stimulation willfully focus attentional processes on a combination of multiplexed audio binaural beats that are mixed with music, pink sound[1], and/or assorted natural sounds. In most cases the process also includes breathing exercises, guided relaxation, affirmation, and visualization. The binaural-beat element of the process appears to be associated with an electoencephalographic (EEG) frequency-following response in the brain.[2] Many studies have demonstrated the presence of a frequency-following response to auditory stimuli, recorded at the vertex of the human brain (top of the head). This EEG activity was termed “frequency-following response” because its period (cycles per second) corresponds to the fundamental frequency of the stimulus (Smith, Marsh, & Brown 1975). Stated plainly, if the audio stimulus is 40 Hz the resulting measured EEG will show a 40 Hz frequency-following response using appropriate time-domain averaging protocols. Binaural-beat stimulation, coupled with the effects of the other procedures within the process outlined above, appears to regulate neuronal activity and encourage access to propitious mental states. The effectiveness of binaural beats in engendering state changes is supported by the consistent reports of thousands of users, as well as the documentation of physiological changes associated with its use.

The reported uses of this binaural-beat method for accessing propitious states of consciousness range from sensory integration (Morris 1990), relaxation, meditation, stress reduction, pain management, improved sleep (Wilson 1990; Rhodes 1993), health care (Carter 1993), and enriched learning environments and enhanced memory (Kennerly 1994) to creativity (Hiew 1995), enhanced intuition, remote viewing[3] (McMoneagle 1993), elepathy[4], and out-of-body experience.[5] An understanding of the applied binaural-beat technology involves the well-known autonomic effects of controlled breathing and progressive relaxation and the psychology of affirmations and visualizations (subjects not addressed in this paper). For the purposes of this paper, discussion is limited to the physiology of the brain, the brain-mind model, brain waves and their relationship to the behavioral psychology of consciousness, and the role of the reticular activating system (RAS) in regulating brain waves and consciousness.

Binaural Beats and the Physiology of the Brain

Binaural beats were discovered in 1839 by a German experimenter, H. W. Dove. The human ability to “hear” binaural beats appears to be the result of evolutionary adaptation. Many evolved species can detect binaural beats because of their brain structure. The frequencies at which binaural beats can be detected change depending upon the size of the species’ cranium. In the human, binaural beats can be detected when carrier tones[6] are below approximately 1000 Hz (Oster 1973). Below 1000 Hz the wave length of the signal is longer than the diameter of the human skull. Thus, signals below 1000 Hz curve around the skull by diffraction. The same effect can be observed with radio wave propagation. Lower-frequency (longer wave length) radio waves (such as AM radio) travel around the earth over and in between mountains and structures. Higher-frequency (shorter wave length) radio waves (such as FM radio, TV, and microwaves) travel in a straight line and cannot curve around the earth. Mountains and structures block these high-frequency signals. Because frequencies below 1000 Hz curve around the skull, incoming signals below 1000 Hz are heard by both ears. But due to the distance between the ears, the brain “hears” the inputs from the ears as out of phase with each other. As the sound wave passes around the skull, each ear gets a different portion of the wave. It is this phase difference that allows for accurate location of sounds below 1000 Hz.[7] Audio direction finding at higher frequencies is less accurate than it is for frequencies below 1000 Hz. At 8000 Hz the pinna (external ear) becomes effective as an aid to localization. Virtually all animal sounds are below 1000 Hz. It is easy to imagine why animals developed the ability to accurately detect the location of each other’s’ sounds. The relevant issue here, however, is that it is this innate ability of the brain to detect a phase difference that enables it to perceive binaural beats.

The sensation of “hearing” binaural beats occurs when two coherent sounds of nearly similar frequencies are presented, one to each ear, and the brain detects phase differences between these sounds. This phase difference normally provides directional information to the listener but when presented with stereo headphones or speakers the brain integrates the two signals, producing a sensation of a third sound called the binaural beat. Perceived as a fluctuating rhythm at the frequency of the difference between the two (stereo left and right) auditory inputs, binaural beats appear to originate in the brainstem’s superior olivary nucleus, the site of contralateral integration of auditory input (Oster 1973). This auditory sensation is neurologically routed to the reticular formation (Swann et al. 1982) and simultaneously volume conducted to the cortex where it can be objectively measured as a frequency-following response (Oster 1973; Smith, Marsh, & Brown 1975; Marsh, Brown & Smith 1975; Smith et al. 1978; Hink et al. 1980). The frequency-following response provides proof that the sensation of binaural beating has neurological efficacy.

Binaural beats can easily be heard at the low frequencies (< 30 Hz) that are characteristic of the EEG spectrum (Oster 1973; Atwater 1997). This perceptual phenomenon of binaural beating and the objective measurement of the frequency-following response (Oster 1973; Hink et al. 1980) suggest conditions which facilitate alteration of brain waves and states of consciousness. There have been numerous anecdotal reports and a growing number of research efforts reporting changes in consciousness associated with binaural-beats. Binaural beats in the delta (1 to 4 Hz) and theta (4 to 8 Hz) ranges have been associated with reports of relaxed, meditative, and creative states (Hiew 1995), sensory integration (Morris 1990), and used as an aid to falling asleep (Wilson 1990; Rhodes 1993). Exposure to audio-guidance training using lower-frequency binaural beats in concert with cognitive therapy resulted in decreased depressive symptoms in alcoholic patients (Waldkoetter & Sanders 1997). Binaural beats in the alpha frequencies (8 to 12 Hz) have increased alpha brain waves (Foster 1990) and binaural beats in the beta frequencies (typically 16 to 24 Hz) have been associated with reports of increased concentration or alertness (Monroe 1985), improved memory (Kennerly 1994), and increases in focused attention in mentally retarded adults (Guilfoyle & Carbone 1996).

Passively listening to binaural beats may not automatically engender an altered state of consciousness. The process usually used when listening to binaural beats includes a number of procedures; binaural beats are only one element. We all maintain a psychophysiological momentum, a homeostasis which may resist the influence of the binaural beats. These homeostatic states are generally controlled by life situations as well as by acts of will, both conscious and subconscious. The willingness and ability of the listener to relax and focus attention or their level of practice in meditative processes may in some way contribute to binaural-beat effectiveness. Naturally occurring neurological ultradian rhythms, characterized by periodic changes in arousal and states of consciousness (Webb & Dube 1981; Rossi 1986; Shannahoff-Khalsa 1991), may underlie the anecdotal reports of fluctuations in the effectiveness of binaural beats. The perception of a binaural beat is said to be heightened by the addition of masking noise to the carrier signal (Oster 1973), so white or pink noise is often used as background. Practices such as humming, toning, breathing exercises, autogenic training, and/or biofeedback can also be used to interrupt the homeostasis of subjects resistant to the effects of binaural beats (Tart 1975).

Brain Waves and Consciousness

Controversies concerning the brain, mind, and consciousness have existed since the early Greek philosophers argued about the nature of the mind-body relationship, and none of these disputes has been resolved. Modern neurologists have located the mind in the brain and have said that consciousness is the result of electrochemical neurological activity. There are, however, growing observations challenging the completeness of these assertions. There is no neurophysiological research which conclusively shows that the higher levels of mind (intuition, insight, creativity, imagination, understanding, thought, reasoning, intent, decision, knowing, will, spirit, or soul) are located in brain tissue (Hunt 1995). A resolution to the controversies surrounding the higher mind and consciousness and the mind-body problem in general may need to involve an epistemological shift to include extra-rational ways of knowing (de Quincey 1994) and may well not be comprehended by neurochemical brain studies alone. Penfield (1975), an eminent contemporary neurophysiologist, found that the human mind continued to work in spite of the brain’s reduced activity under anesthesia. Brain waves were nearly absent while the mind was just as active as in the waking state. The only difference was in the content of the conscious experience. Following Penfield’s work, other researchers have reported awareness in comatose patients (Hunt 1995) and there is a growing body of evidence which suggests that reduced cortical arousal while maintaining conscious awareness is possible (Fischer 1971; West 1980; Delmonte 1984; Wallace 1986; Goleman 1988; Mavromatis 1991; Jevning, Wallace, & Beidenbach 1992). These states are variously referred to as meditative, trance, altered, hypnagogic, hypnotic, and twilight-learning states (Budzynski 1986). Broadly defined, the various forms of altered states rest on the maintenance of conscious awareness in a physiologically reduced state of arousal marked by parasympathetic dominance (Mavromatis 1991). Recent physiological studies of highly hypnotizable subjects and adept meditators indicate that maintaining awareness with reduced cortical arousal is indeed possible in selected individuals as a natural ability or as an acquired skill (Sabourin, Cutcomb, Crawford, & Pribram 1993). More and more scientists are expressing doubts about the neurologists’ brain-mind model because it fails to answer so many questions about our ordinary experiences, as well as evading our mystical and spiritual ones. Studies in distant mental influence and mental healing also challenge the notion of a mind localized within the brain (Dossey 1994, 1996a). Nonlocal events have been proven to occur at the subatomic level and some researchers believe that the physics principles behind these events underlie nonlocal consciousness-mediated effects (Dossey 1996a). Consciousness-associated anomalies appear unrestricted by spatial or temporal boundaries and many experiments have been done to shed light on this remarkable quality of the mind (Dossey 1996b). The scientific evidence supporting the phenomenon of remote viewing alone is sufficient to show that mind-consciousness is not a local phenomenon (McMoneagle 1993).

If mind-consciousness is not the brain, why then does science relate states of consciousness and mental functioning to brain-wave frequencies? There is no objective way to measure mind or consciousness with an instrument. Mind-consciousness appears to be a field phenomenon which interfaces with the body and the neurological structures of the brain (Hunt 1995). One cannot measure this field directly with current instrumentation. On the other hand, the electrical potentials of the body can be measured and easily quantified. The problem here lies in oversimplification of the observations. EEG patterns measured on the cortex are the result of electroneurological activity of the brain. But the brain’s electroneurological activity is not mind-consciousness. EEG measurements then are only an indirect means of assessing the mind-consciousness interface with the neurological structures of the brain. As crude as this may seem, the EEG has been a reliable way for researchers to estimate states of consciousness based on the relative proportions of EEG frequencies. Stated another way, certain EEG patterns have been historically associated with specific states of consciousness. Although not an absolute, it is reasonable to assume, given the current EEG literature, that if a specific EEG pattern emerges it is probably accompanied by a particular state of consciousness.

Binaural beats can alter the electrochemical environment of the brain allowing mind-consciousness to have different experiences. When brain waves move to lower frequencies and awareness is maintained, a unique state of consciousness emerges. Practitioners of the binaural-beat process call this state of hypnagogia “mind awake/body asleep.” Slightly higher-frequencies can lead to hyper-suggestive states of consciousness. Still higher-frequency EEG states are associated with alert and focused mental activity needed for the optimal performance of many tasks.

Perceived reality changes depending on the state of consciousness of the perceiver (Tart 1975). Some states of consciousness provide limited views of reality, while others provide an expanded awareness of reality. For the most part, states of consciousness change in response to the ever-changing internal environment and surrounding stimulation. For example, states of consciousness are subject to influences like drugs and circadian and ultradian rhythms (Webb & Dube 1981; Rossi 1986; Shannahoff-Khalsa 1991). Specific states of consciousness can also be learned as adaptive behaviors to demanding circumstances (Green & Green 1986). Binaural-beat technology offers access to a wide variety of altered-state experiences for those wanting to explore the realms of consciousness.

Hemispheric Synchronization

Many of the states of consciousness available through this technology have been identified as presenting unique hemispherically synchronized brain-wave frequencies. Although synchronized brain waves have long been associated with meditative and hypnagogic states, the binaural-beat process may be unique in its ability to induce and improve such states of consciousness. The reason for this is physiological. Each ear is “hardwired” (so to speak) to both hemispheres of the brain (Rosenzweig 1961). Each hemisphere has its own olivary nucleus (sound-processing center) which receives signals from each ear. In keeping with this physiological structure, when a binaural beat is perceived there are actually two electrochemical synaptic waves of equal amplitude and frequency present, one in each hemisphere. This is, in and of itself, hemispheric synchrony of synaptic activity. Binaural beats appear to contribute to the hemispheric synchronization evidenced in meditative and hypnagogic states of consciousness. Binaural beats may also enhance brain function by enabling the user to mediate cross-collosal connectivity at designated brain-wave frequencies.

The two cerebral hemispheres of the brain are like two separate information processing modules. Both are complex cognitive systems; both process information independently and in parallel; and their interaction is neither arbitrary nor continuous (Zaidel 1985). Because of this, states of consciousness (mind-consciousness interfacing with the brain) can be defined not only in terms of brain-wave frequency ratios, but also in terms of hemispheric specialization and/or interaction. Some desired states of consciousness may require facile inter-hemispheric integration, while others may call for a unique hemispheric processing style. An individual’s cognitive repertoire and, therefore, his ability to perceive reality and deal with the everyday world, is subject to his ability to experience various states of consciousness (Tart 1975). Binaural beats provide the tools for individuals to expand their ability to experience a wide range of mind-consciousness states.

Each state of consciousness is not represented by one simple brain wave but involves a milieu of inner-mixing wave forms, a field effect. The reason for this lies in the structure of the brain itself. Not only is the brain divided horizontally into hemispheres, it is also divided vertically from the brainstem to the cerebellum, the thalamus, the limbic system, and the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is further divided into such functional areas as the frontal lobes, the parietal lobes, the temporal lobes, and the occipital lobes. There are, of course, many other subdivisions of the brain which have not been mentioned. The critical point is that for each discrete state of consciousness, mind-consciousness interfaces with each area of the brain and each area resonates at a specific brain-wave frequency unique to that interface because it performs a localized function (Luria 1970).

Developing Effective Binaural Beat

The process of developing effective stimuli relied initially on the feedback of those experiencing altered states while listening to binaural beats (Atwater 1997), and more recently with the aid of EEG technology. Originally, researchers tested many subjects under laboratory conditions for their responses to binaural-beat stimuli. Records were kept as to the effect each binaural-beat frequency had on these subjects. Then binaural beats were mixed and records were again kept on the subjects’ responses. After months (in some cases, years), test results began to show population-wide similar responses to specific mixes of binaural beats. Certain complex, brain-wave-like combinations of binaural beats were reported more effective than other combinations, and more effective than binaural beats of single frequencies (sine waves). Effective binaural beats are, therefore, unique in that they are designed to be complex brain-wave-like patterns rather than simple sine waves. (See illustrations below.)

Fig 1

 

fig 2

How Binaural Beats Alter States of Consciousness

Two decades ago it was assumed that the mechanism behind the consciousness-altering effects of binaural beats was some how related to entrainment of the auditory frequency-following response – a theorized process of nonlinear stochastic resonance of brain waves with the frequency of the auditory stimulus. Since an auditory frequency-following response could be measured at the cortex it seemed logical to assume that the underlying consciousness-altering mechanism must be some form of Newtonian entrainment process at work. Continuing research revealed, however, that there is no effect-mechanism to support the notion that entrainment of the auditory frequency-following response could occur or is responsible for alterations in consciousness. Comparisons to photic entrainment models are not supported because the EEG signal strength of the measured auditory frequency-following response of binaural beats is too low. At this point it is hard to even speculate that the neural activity of the frequency-following response could, in some electromagnetically inductive way, alter ongoing brain-wave activity.

A review of the appropriate literature reveals that brain waves and related states of consciousness are said to be regulated by the brain’s reticular formation stimulating the thalamus and cortex. The extended reticular-thalamic activation system (ERTAS) is implicated in a variety of functions associated with consciousness (Newman 1997). The word reticular means “net-like” and the neural reticular formation itself is a large, net-like diffuse area of the brainstem (Anch et al. 1988). The reticular activating system (RAS) interprets and reacts to information from internal stimuli, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs as well as external sensory stimuli by regulating arousal states, attentional focus, and the level of awareness – the elements of consciousness itself (Empson 1986; Tice & Steinberg 1989). How we interpret, respond, and react to information then, is managed by the brain’s reticular formation stimulating the thalamus and cortex, and controlling attentiveness and level of arousal (Empson 1986). “It would seem that the basic mechanisms underlying consciousness are closely bound up with the brainstem reticular system . . .” (Henry 1992).

In order to alter consciousness it is necessary to provide some sort of information input to the RAS. Binaural beats appear to influence consciousness by providing this information. The information referred to here includes the character, quality, and traits of the state of consciousness of the complex, brain-wave-like pattern of the binaural beat (see previous illustration). These unique binaural-beat wave forms (neurologically evidenced by the EEG frequency-following response) are recognized by the RAS as brain-wave pattern information. If internal stimuli, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and external sensory stimuli are not in conflict with this information (e.g., an internal, even unconscious, fear may be a source of conflict), the RAS will alter the state of consciousness as a natural function of maintaining homeostasis by regulating brain activity to synthesize the integrated binaural-beat stimulus (sensing it as a component of ongoing neural activity).

Without conflict, the RAS initiates replication of the character, quality, and traits of the neurologically evident and persistent binaural beating. As time passes, the RAS monitors both the internal and external environment and the state of consciousness itself (in terms of neural activity) to determine, from moment to moment, its suitability for dealing with existing conditions. As long as no conflicts develop, the RAS naturally continues aligning the listener’s state of consciousness with the information in the brain-wave-like pattern of the binaural sound field.

In objective, measurable terms EEG-based research provides evidence of binaural beat’s influence on consciousness. Since the RAS regulates cortical EEG (Swann et al. 1982), monitoring EEG chronicles performance of the RAS. There have been several free-running EEG studies (Foster 1990; Sadigh 1990; Hiew 1995, among others) which suggest that binaural beating induces alterations in EEG. Because the RAS is responsible for regulating EEG (Swann et al. 1982; Empson 1986), these studies document measurable changes in RAS function during exposure to binaural beats.

It is tempting to speculate about a neurophysiological model underlying a binaural-beat-engendered state of consciousness labeled mind awake/body asleep, a hypnagogic experience common to many. In this state, a greater proportion of lower frequency brain waves (theta and delta) have been recorded in the EEG. The “body asleep” part of this state may be tied to the increase in delta waves associated with hyper-polarization of thalamocortical cells (Steriade, McCormick, & Sejnowski 1993). The “mind awake” part of this state may be associated with theta frequencies in a portion of the hippo-campus. One is said to have achieved this state of mind-consciousness when a new condition of hypnagogic homeostasis is established and one becomes oblivious to the location of body extremities (hands, feet, etc.), still without losing consciousness (falling asleep).

Summary

The binaural-beat auditory-guidance process provides access to many beneficial mind-consciousness states. This process is a unique combination of well-understood psycho-physiological inductive techniques (restricted environmental stimulation, controlled breathing, progressive relaxation, affirmation, visualization, etc.) with the addition of a refined binaural-beat technology providing potential consciousness-altering information to the brain’s reticular activating system. This safe and effective binaural-beat process offers a wide variety of applications which include, but are not limited to: relaxation, meditation, enhanced creativity, intuition development, enriched learning, improved sleep, wellness, and the exploration of expanded mind-consciousness states.

1 Pink sound is “white noise” (like the hiss sound from a television after a station has stopped transmitting) which has been equalized for human hearing. Lower-frequency components have been amplified and higher-frequency components reduced to create a more pleasing natural sound.

2 A frequency-following response to a binaural beat has been demonstrated by Oster (1973) and in the context of hearing-acuity research (Hink et al., 1980).

3 Remote viewing is described as an ability to perceive locations remote in time or space by mental means alone. Remote viewers can describe and sketch locations and events beyond the range of the usual sensory input (cf.JSE, Vol. 10, No. 1 for several reports).

4 Telepathy is commonly referred to as direct mind-to-mind communication without the aid of conventional external sensory input. Robert Monroe referred to this as nonverbal communication.

5 The expressions “in” and “out-of-body” refer to individual awareness. In the out-of-body experi- ence, mind-consciousness does not separate from the human tissue as in death. One’s mind is always experienced as being either in or out of the body. It depends on where awareness is focused. Being out-of- body simply means that there is no direct connection to certain material levels of consciousness, including the normally unconscious activities of breathing and heart function which continue without one’s attention. Being out-of-body is a consciousness experience with a shift of mind-consciousness and locale. Some enjoy this shift. Others become frightened that they may get lost and be unable to find their way back to their bodies. If one believes that the mind is in the brain, and one experiences what one believes is out-of-body awareness, it is easy to feel that one is too far from the “gas station” and that one can get stranded. But the mind is not the brain so there is no reason to fear. If one knows one is “out” one can always get back because there is some normally subconscious activity (respiration, heartbeat, etc.) on the brain-material level to tether one back (Hunt, 1995).

6 Electronically produced binaural beats can be “heard” when audio tones of slightly different frequencies are presented one to each ear. These audio tones are referred to as carriers.

7 In the case of signals above 1000 Hz the skull blocks the signal from the lee-side ear. The source of the sound 1s then determined by the brain to be in the general direction of the loud noise, there being a lower amplitude heard by the lee-side ear.

8 The brain automatically and actively regulates all body functions to maintain homeostasis – an internal equilibrium (Green & Green, 1977; Swann et al., 1982). In a natural and constant attempt to maintain a homeostasis of the elements of consciousness, the RAS actively monitors and continues the neural replication of ongoing brain-wave states (unless, of course, there is reason to make an adjustment due to new information from internal sources or external sensory input).

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Binaural-Beat Induced Theta EEG Activity and Hypnotic Susceptibility

Brian Brady
Northern Arizona University
May 1997

ABSTRACT

Six participants varying in degree of hypnotizability (two lows, two mediums, and two highs) were exposed to three sessions of a binaural-beat sound stimulation protocol designed to enhance theta brainwave activity. The Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C (SHSS:C) was used for pre and post-stimulus measures of hypnotic susceptibility. Time-series analysis was used to evaluate anterior theta activity in response to binaural-beat sound stimulation over baseline and stimulus sessions. A protocol designed to increase anterior theta activity resulted in a significant increase in theta measures (% activity) between pre-stimulus baseline and stimulus observations for five of six participants. Hypnotic susceptibility levels remained stable in the high-susceptible group, and increased moderately in the low and medium susceptible groups.

INTRODUCTION

Differential individual response to hypnosis, has, captured the attention of hypnosis practitioners and researchers since the time of Mesmer, in the late 18th century. Despite the long recognized importance of individual variation in hypnotizability, efforts to modify or increase individual hypnotic susceptibility have proven to be problematic and controversial.

Part of the difficulty in addressing the nature of hypnotizability has been the lack of consensus regarding the basic phenomena of hypnosis. The central issue has been whether observed hypnotic responses are due to an altered stated of consciousness or merely the product of psychosocial factors.

Considering hypnosis as either an altered state or as a purely psychosocial phenomenon served to provide two opposing factions into which most theories of hypnosis could be grouped. Contemporary hypnosis researchers tend to hold less extreme positions, realizing the benefit of a perspective which is comprised of the strengths of both the special-process (i.e., altered state of consciousness) and the social-psychological theoretical domains.

Theoretical Perspectives of Hypnosis

The 1960’s witnessed the advent of standardized hypnotic susceptibility measurements. Reliable standardized instruments have been developed for use with groups and individuals. Early work with the electroencephalogram (EEG) designed to identify hypnotic susceptibility also began around this time. More recent EEG / hypnosis research has focused on electrocortical correlates of both the state of, and differential individual response to, hypnosis. The concept of a reliable electrocortical correlate of hypnotic susceptibility draws attention to the recent applications of neurofeedback therapy, which has employed a number of protocols designed for individual brainwave modification. Recent advances in the application of binaural-beat technology and the associated EEG frequency following response, which can be either relaxing or stimulating, have demonstrated efficacy of brainwave modification in areas such as enriched learning, improved sleep, and relaxation (Atwater, 1997). In consideration of recent EEG / hypnosis research along with the recently demonstrated efficacy of EEG neurofeedback training research and the binaural-beat technology applications, it would seem that the lingering question of hypnotizability modification can now be addressed by utilizing brainwave modification within a systematic protocol.

As mentioned earlier, it has often been the case in the past to view the field of hypnosis as being dominated, theoretically, by two opposing camps; the special-process and the social-psychological. In general, the special-process view holds that hypnosis induces a unique state of consciousness; whereas, the social-psychological view maintains that hypnosis is not a distinct physiological state.

Popular authors of the post-Mesmeric period (i.e., mid 19th century), such as James Braid, proposed psychophysiological and sometimes neurophysiological explanations for the hypnotic phenomenon (Sabourin, 1982). In fact, Braid adopted the term “neuro-hypnology” to describe the phenomenon and is credited as the originator of the term “hypnosis” (Bates, 1994, p. 27). The work of other English physicians, such as John Elliotson and James Esdaile, on surgical anesthesia and clinical pain relief in the mid-19th century (Soskis, 1986), are indicative of the psychophysiological zeitgeist of hypnosis in that time. This physiologically-oriented perspective is reflected in Hilgard’s neodissociation model (Hilgard, 1986), which suggests that hypnosis involves the activation of hierarchically arranged subsystems of cognitive control. This dissociation of consciousness is clearly manifested in the realm of hypnotically induced analgesia. Hilgard’s conception of a “hidden observer” (Hilgard, 1973) as a dissociated part of consciousness, a part that is always aware of nonexperienced pain and can be communicative with the therapist, is exemplified in his description of a hypnotically analgesic individual whose hand and arm were immersed in circulating ice water as follows:

All the while that she was insisting verbally that she felt no pain in hypnotic analgesia, the dissociated part of herself was reporting through automatic writing that she felt the pain just as in the normal nonhypnotic state. (p. 398)

In Hilgard’s model, the hidden observer is the communication of the above described subsystem not available to consciousness during hypnosis. It is reasonable to assume, considering hypnosis research with pain control, that such a dissociative effect of cognitive functioning (i.e., cortical inhibition) would have, as a substrate, some neuropsychophysiological correlate.

Often the social-psychological or social-learning position sees hypnotic behaviors as other complex social behaviors, the result of such factors as ability, attitude, belief, expectancy, attribution, and interpretation of the situation (Krisch & Lynn, 1995). The influence of such variables as learning history and environmental influences are described by Barber (1969). In this influential discourse, Barber presents a framework in which hypnotic responding is related to antecedent stimuli, such as expectations, motivation, definition of the situation, and the experimenter-subject relationship. Diamond (1989) proposed a variation of the social-psychological view which emphasized the cognitive functions associated with the experience of hypnosis, as described in the following:

It may be most fruitful to think of hypnotizability as a set of cognitive skills rather than a stable trait. Thus, it is conceivable that the so called “insusceptibe” or refractory S [subject] is ‘simply less adept at creating, implementing, or utilizing the requisite cognitive skills in hypnotic test situations. Similarly, what makes for a highly responsive or “virtuoso” S may well be precisely the ability or skill to generate those cognitive processes within the context of a unique relationship with a hypnotist. (p. 382)

According to the social-psychological paradigm, an individual’s response to hypnosis is related to a disposition toward hypnosis, expectations, and the use of more effective cognitive strategies, not because the individual possesses a certain level of hypnotic ability. An important implication of the social psychological or social-learning theory is that an individual’s level of hypnotizability can be modified and thus enhanced with systematic strategies to accommodate for individual deficiencies. These two positions can no longer be perceived as a dichotomy, but more accurately as overlapping areas in a Venn diagram. It is not difficult for one to recognize the role of both individual characteristics (i.e., differential neurological activity) and contextual variables (i.e., psychosocial constructs) in measuring and determining the hypnotic response. In other words, the hypnotic response can be viewed as a product of a trance-like state of altered consciousness, which is itself moderated by psychosocial factors such as social influence, personal abilities, and possibly the effects of modification strategies. Such a perspective allows for a more complete investigation of the nature of hypnotic susceptibility by taking into account the relevant issues within each position.

Importance of Individual Differences

In the middle 1960’s the focus on hypnotic research was dominated by a trait, or individual difference, approach. The use of standardized hypnotic susceptibility measurements became common. Most practitioners today tend to view hypnotic susceptibility as a relatively stable characteristic that varies across individuals. This view, and the realization of individual variability in the ability to experience hypnosis, are not new ideas, as Mesmer long ago emphasized the individual’s receptivity to hypnotic process (Laurence & Perry, 1988). Braid, an English physician during the 19th century, described the remarkable differences of different individuals in the degree of susceptibility to the hypnotic experience (Waite, 1960). The importance of within-individual variability in hypnotic susceptibility is also found in Braid’s comments that individuals are affected differently, and that even the same individual could react differently at different times to hypnosis (Waite, 1960). Differential responses to hypnosis were recognized by Freud in his attempts to determine which patients would be the most responsive to hypnotic training. Freud, like others at this time, was unable to identify reliable correlates of hypnotizability. Freud’s frustration is reflected in his observation that “We can never tell in advance whether it VAII be possible to hypnotize a patient or not, and the only way m have of discovering is by the attempt itself’ (Freud, 1966, p. 106). This view is reflected in the methodology of current standardized scales of hypnotizability which use direct measures of hypnotic responses to determine level of hypnotizability.

Differential treatment outcome, associated with individual differences in the way individuals respond to hypnosis, has been observed by practitioners for centuries. Hypnotic susceptibility may also be a relevant factor in the practice of health psychology / behavioral medicine. Bowers (1979) suggested that hypnotic ability is important in the healing or improvement of various somatic disorders. He has also provided evidence that therapeutic outcomes with psychosomatic disorders “re correlated with hypnotic susceptibility, even Men hypnotic procedures were not employed (Bowers, 1982). Significant relationships have been found between hypnotizability and the reduction of chronic pain, chronic facial pain, headaches, and skin disorders (e.g., warts, chronic urticaria, and atopic eczema) with hypnotic techniques (Brown, 1992). Support for the interaction of negative emotions and hypnotic ability as a mediator of symptoms and disease has also been provided by recent research (Wickramasekera, 1979,1994; Wickramasekera, Pope, & Kolm, 1996). A recent article by Ruzyla-Smith, Barabasz, Barabasz & Warner (1995), measuring the effects of hypnosis on the immune response, found significant increases in B-cells and helper T-cells only for the highly hypnotizable participants in the study. This report not only suggests that hypnosis can modify the activity of components of the immune system, but also highlights the importance of individual variability in response to hypnosis.

In terms of modification of hypnotizability, initial hypnotic susceptibility level may be a factor in the resulting degree of modification. In a paper discussing the issue of hypnotizability modification, Perry (1977) presented a number of studies employing a range of less susceptible individuals for modification training. Overall, the attempts to modify hypnotizability were unsuccessful in these studies. Perry suggested that successful modification tends to be more common in medium susceptible individuals. It may be that the medium susceptible individual, having already demonstrated a certain degree of hypnotic ability, possesses the underlying cognitive framework essential to the hypnotic experience. This line of reasoning could explain the differential responses of low susceptible and medium susceptible individuals to hypnotizability modification training. The high susceptible individual could also prove to be less responsive to modification strategies compared to the medium susceptible individual, as a potential exists for a ceiling effect with the high susceptible individual.

Standardized Measures of Hypnotic Susceptibility

The long observed differences in individual response to hypnosis eventually led to the development of the first viable measures of hypnotizability, the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Forms A and B (SHSS:A and SHSS:B) by Weitzenhoffer and Hilgard (1959). The introduction of the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C (SHSS:C) by Weitzenhoffer and Hilgard (1962) represented an improved version of the two earlier forms; it was comprised of a greater proportion of more difficult cognitive items. The SHSS:C is still the prevalent measure of hypnotic susceptibility in current use and is often the criterion by which other measures of hypnotizability are evaluated (Perry, Nadon, & Button, 1992). This instrument is essentially an ascending scale which begins with relatively easy hypnotic induction procedures and progressively moves to more difficult trance challenges.

A recent study by Kurtz & Strube (1996), comparing a number of hypnotic measures, described the SHSS:C as the gold standard of susceptibility tests. This study also addressed the idea of using multiple measures of hypnotic susceptibility in order to improve predictive power over using a single administered test. Kurtz & Strube (1996) concluded that the use of multiple measures of susceptibility was not warranted, and that the “rational” choice for a single measure of hypnotic susceptibility would be the SHSS:C.

Research with the EEG and Hypnotic Susceptibility

Brainwaves are the far-field electrical wave patterns set up by neurochemical activity in the living brain. The electroencephalograph (EEG) is an instrument which can measure this activity and determine its strength (higher or lower amplitude) and speed (high or low frequency). Scientists have characterized brainwaves into four broad categories: (a) beta, brainwaves above 13 cycles per second (or hertz), indicative of active consciousness; (b) alpha, a slower brainwave ranging from 8 to l2 hertz, characteristic of a relaxed conscious state of awareness; (c) theta, the next slower waves ranging from 4 to 8 hertz, often associated with dreamlike imagery and deep relaxation; (d) delta, the slowest waves from 0 to 4 hertz which can predominate during dreamless sleep.

The majority of early research with hypnosis shared a common goal: the development of a methodology to determine if, and when, an individual is hypnotized. The majority of early EEG research with hypnosis focused on the state of hypnosis, often attempting to distinguish the state of hypnosis from the state of sleep (Sabourin, 1982). Weitzenhoffer’s 1953 review of studies utilizing the EEG with hypnosis concluded that hypnosis is perhaps more akin to light sleep than either deep sleep or the waking state.

A shift occurred in the late 1960’s as researchers began investigating possible electrocortical correlates of hypnotic susceptibility using the EEG. The predominant focus in hypnosis research from this time forward was on individual differences rather that the hypnotic state per se. Much of the early research focused on alpha wave indices of hypnotic susceptibility. A review by Dumas (1977) found that no alpha-hypnotizability correlation existed in the general population. Additionally, a recent critical review by Perlini & Spanos (1991) offered little support for an alpha-hypnotizability relationship. Other early studies found greater resting theta wave activity with highly susceptible individuals (Galbraith, London, Leibovitz, Cooper & Hart, 1970; Tebecis, Provins, Farnbach & Pentony, 1975; Akpinar, Ulett, and ltil, 1971). Overall, the comparison of early EEG research proves difficult given the aggregate of technologies and methodologies employed over a span of time characterized by extreme variance in technological development.

Recent studies have reexamined the relationship between EEG measures and hypnotic susceptibility based on rigorous subject screening and control, along with enhanced recording and analytic techniques. Sabourin, Cutcomb, Crawford, and Pribram (1990) found highly hypnotizable subjects to generate substantially more mean theta power than did low hypnotizable subjects in frontal, central, and occipital derivations during resting nonhypnotic baseline, with largest differences observed in the frontal (F3, F4) locations. According to a review by Crawford and Gruzeiler (1992), theta activity, which is strongly and positively related to hypnotic susceptibility, is the most consistent EEG correlate of hypnotic susceptibility. The results of a recent study by Graffin, Ray & Lundy (1995) indicate that highly hypnotizable subjects demonstrate significantly more theta activity in frontal (F3, F4) and temporal (T3, T4) areas in comparison to low hypnotizable subjects at baseline measures. The studies by Sabourin et al. (1990) and Graffin et al. (1995) are alike in that each employed fast Fourier transformation (FFT) and power spectral analysis of monopolar EEG derivations, which allows for the examination of activity within each component frequency of each EEG epoch.

The position which is most supported in the contemporary literature is a consistent pattern of EEG activity which can differentiate individuals according to standardized hypnotic susceptibility scores. It is suggested that high-susceptible individuals produce more anterior theta activity as compared to low-susceptible individuals. This baseline individual difference is an important neuropsychophysiological indicator of hypnotizability and could prove to be a more stable individual difference measure than standard psychometric measures (Graffin et al., 1995).

Theta Waves and Perceptual Variations

The relationship between theta activity and selective attentional processes lends further support to a coexistent relationship with hypnotizability. The concepts of Class I and Class 11 inhibition have been presented by Vogel, Broverman, & Klaiber (1968). Class I inhibition is described as being correlated with a general inactivity or drowsiness, whereas Class 11 inhibition is related to more efficient and selective attentional processes. The Class 11 concept of slow wave activity is described by Vogel et al. (1968) as “a selective inactivation of particular responses so that a continuing excitatory state becomes directed or patterned (p. 172)”. Sabourin et al. (1990) suggested that the theta activity observed in highly hypnotizable subjects reflects involvement in greater absorptive attentional skills. As in the Sabourin et al. (1990) study, Graffin et al. (1995) provide suggestions regarding the selective attentional component of theta: ” high hypnotiizables either possess, or can manifest, a heightened state of attentional readiness and concentration of attention” (p. 128). The relationship between greater attentional readiness and frontal theta has also been suggested in psychophysiological studies (Bruneau et al., 1993; Ishihara & Yoshii, 1972; Mizuki et al., 1980). Another possible supportive line of research involves the examination of psychological absorption and hypnotizability relationships. Studies have found absorption to be consistently correlated with hypnotizability (Glisky, Tataryn, Tobias, Kihlstrom, & McConkey, 1991; Nadon, Hoyt, Register, & Kihlstrom, 1991; Tellegen & Atkinson, 1974). In a review of psychological correlates of theta, Schacter (1977) described the relationship between the hypnagogic state and the presence of low voltage theta activity. Green & Green (1977) described the theta state as that of reverie and hypnogogic imagery. They employed theta neurofeedback training to induce quietness of body, emotions, and mind, and to build a bridge between the conscious and unconscious. In describing theta EEG brainwave biofeedback, the Life Sciences Institute of Mind-Body Health (1995) associated increased theta activity with “states of reverie that have been known to creative people of all time” (p. 4).

Considering these findings related to theta activity, a relationship between individual levels of hypnotizability, selective inhibition, hypnogogic reverie, and theta activity is more easily understood. Relatively high theta activity may be indicative of a characteristic brainwave pattern which reflects an underlying cognitive mechanism that relates to a type of selective inhibition and hypnogogic imagery.

Research with Neurofeedback Training

Neurofeedback training works on the brain’s ability to produce certain brainwaves the way exercise works to strengthen muscles. EEG biofeedback instruments show the kinds of brainwaves an individual is producing, making it possible for that individual to learn to manipulate the observed brainwaves.

Demonstrated individual success acquiring the ability to self-regulate characteristic brainwave patterns is evident in the neurofeedback literature. Various protocols have been employed by many practitioners to enhance both relaxation (an increase in production of slow waves, such as theta, and a decreased production of fast beta waves) and mental activity (a decrease production of excessive slow wave, such as delta and lower frequency theta; with an increase in the production of ‘fast” beta waves). An impressive number of recent studies have demonstrated the efficacy of brainwave neurofeedback training. The work by Peniston and others with individuals with alcohol abuse issues (Peniston & Kulkosky, 1989, 1990, 1991; Saxby and Peniston, 1995) has provided remarkable results. Peniston has shown 13 month follow-up relapse rates of 20% (compared to 80% using conventional medical training), significant reductions in Beck Depression Inventory scores, and decreased levels of beta-endorphin in subjects treated with Alpha-Theta brainwave training. The area of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has received strong attention from neurofeedback researchers (Barabasz & Barabasz, 1995; Lubar, 1991; Rossiter & Vaque, 1995). Lubar’s work has provided strong support for the effectiveness of a protocol designed for Beta-training (16-20 Hz) and Theta inhibition (4-8Hz ), with 80% of 250 treated children showing grade point average improvements of 1.5 levels (range 0-3.5) (Lubar, 1991). Objective assessments of the efficacy of neurofeedback training for ADHD have shown significant improvements on the Test of Variables of Attention (T.O.V.A.) scales and Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R) IQ scores with subjects who demonstrated significant decreases in theta activity across sessions (Lubar, Swaamod, Swartwood, & O’Donnell, 1995). Additional studies with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with Vietnam veterans (Peniston, 1990; Peniston & Kulkosky, 1991; Peniston, Marrinan & Deming, 1993) have provided unprecedented results with a condition often very resistant to training with other interventions.

The work by Ochs (1994) with the use of light and sound feedback of EEG frequencies, EEG disentrainment feedback (EDF), is also promising in terms of modification of EEG patterns. However, unlike traditional EEG biofeedback, with Dr. Ochs’ device there is no need for the individual to be consciously involved in the process. The visual and auditory stimuli respond to and match the individual’s brainwaves and these stimuli are in turn generated by the overall frequency of the individual’s brainwaves. The aptitude of this system is the capacity for the clinician to alter the feedback frequencies upward or downward, in effect, providing flexibility into a “set” or “characteristic” brainwave pattern.

The flexibility of individual neurofeedback training is evident in the various approaches designed to intensify certain types of EEG activity either by itself, or to intensify certain types of EEG activity and decrease other types of EEG activity occurring at the same time. Overall, the relatively high number of recent neurofeedback training studies with consistent positive results strongly demonstrate the changes in cognitive and behavioral variables resulting from the alteration of individual brainwave patterns.

Research with Binaural-Beat Sound Stimulation

Binaural-beat stimulation is an important element of a patented auditory guidance system developed by Robert A. Monroe. In fact, Robert Monroe has been granted several patents for applications of psychophysical entrainment via sound patterns in (Atwater, 1997). In the patented process referred to as Hemi-Sync®, individuals are exposed to factors including breathing exercises, guided relaxation, visualizations, and binaural beats. Extensive research within the Monroe Institute of Applied Sciences, which has documented physiological changes associated with Hemi-Sync use, along with consistent reports of thousands of Hemi-Sync users, appears to support the theory that the Hemi-Sync process encourages directed neuropsychophysiological variations (Atwater, 1997).

The underlying premise of the Hemi-Sync process is not unlike that adopted by many EEG neurofeedback therapists, that an individuals’ predominant state of consciousness can be reflected as a homeostatic pattern of brain activity (i.e., an individual differential bandwidth activity within the EEG spectrum) and can often be resistant to variation. Atwater (1997) reported that practitioners of the Hemi-Sync process have observed a state of hypnagogia or experiences of a kind of mind-awake/body asleep state associated with entrainment of the brain to lower frequencies (delta and theta) and with slightly higher-frequency entrainment associated with hyper suggestive states of consciousness (high theta and low alpha). In line with current EEG research relating to ADHD (see Lubar,1991), Hemi-Sync researchers have noted deep relaxation with entrainment of the brain to lower frequencies and increased mental activity and alertness with higher frequency entrainment. The Monroe Institute has been refining binaural-beat technology for over thirty years and has developed a variety of applications including enriched learning, improved sleep, relaxation, wellness, and expanded mind-consciousness states (Atwater, 1997).

Binaural beat stimulation can be further understood by considering how we detect sound sources in daily life. Incoming frequencies or sounds can be detected by each ear as the wave curves around the skull by detraction. The brain perceives this differential input as being “out of phase”, and this waveform phase difference allows for accurate location of sounds. Stated simply, less noise is heard by one ear, and more by the other. The capacity of the brain to detect a waveform phase difference also enables it to perceive binaural beats (Atwater, 1997). The presentation of waveform phase differences (different frequencies), which normally is associated with directional information, can produce a different phenomenon when heard with stereo headphones or speakers. The result of presenting phase differences in this manner is a perceptual integration of the signals; the sensation of a third “beat” frequency (Atwater, 1997). This perception of the binaural-beat is at a frequency that is the difference between the two auditory inputs.

Binaural beats can easily be heard at the low frequencies (<30 Hz) that are characteristic of the EEG spectrum (Austere, 1973). This perception of the binaural-beat is associated with an EEG frequency following response (FFR). This phenomenon is described by Atwater (1997) as EEG activity which corresponds to the fundamental frequency of the stimulus, such as binaural-beat stimulation.

The sensation of auditory binaural beating occurs when two coherent sounds of nearly similar frequencies are presented one to each ear with stereo headphones or speakers. Originating in the brainstem’s superior olivary nucleus, the site of contralateral integration of auditory input (Oster, 1973), the audio sensation of binaural beating is neurologically conveyed to the reticular formation (Swann, Bosanko, Cohen, Midgley & Seed, 1982) and the cortex where it can be observed as a frequency-following response with EEG equipment. The word reticular means ‘net-like’ and the neural reticular formation itself is a large, net-like diffuse area of the brainstem (Anch, et al. 1988). The RAS regulates cortical EEG (Swann et al. 1988) and controls arousal, attention, and awareness – the elements of consciousness itself (Tice & Steinberg, 1989; Empson, 1986). How we interpret, respond, and react to information (internal stimuli, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs as well as external sensory stimuli) is managed by the brain’s reticular formation stimulating the thalamus and cortex, and controlling attentiveness and level of arousal (Empson, 1986). Binaural beats can influence ongoing brainwave states by providing information to the brain’s reticular activating system (RAS). If internal stimuli, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and external sensory stimuli are not in conflict with this information, the RAS will alter brainwave states to match the binaural- beat provocation.

A recent study by Foster (1991) was conducted in an effort to determine the effects of alpha-frequency binaural beat stimulation combined with alpha neurofeedback on alpha-frequency brainwave production. Foster found that the combination of binaural-beat stimulation and alpha neurofeedback produced significantly higher alpha production than that of neurofeedback alone, but that the group which received only binaural-beat stimulation, produced significantly higher alpha production than either group. In a review of three studies directed towards the effects of Hemi-Sync tapes on electrocortical activity, Sadigh (1994) reported increased brainwave activity in the desired direction after virtually minutes of exposure to the Hemi-Sync signals.

Research to date, therefore, has suggested that the use of the binaural-beat sound applications can contribute to the establishment of prescribed variation in individual psychophysiological homeostatic patterns (brainwave patterns), which can precipitate alterations in cognitive processes. The relationship between individual patterns of cognitive variables and characteristic brainwave patterns affords not only a methodology for change, but also an objective unit for measure of change.

Purpose of the Present Study

The present study was an effort to develop, and to test the efficacy of, techniques designed to increase anterior theta activity and susceptibility to hypnosis as measured by currently employed standardized instruments. Contemporary hypnosis / EEG research studies have found individual electrocortical differences (anterior theta activity) to be reliable predictors of hypnotic susceptibility. Clinicians and researchers within the field of neurofeedback training have also demonstrated the efficacy of prescribed changes in individual EEG patterns and behavioral variables, with a number of medical and psychological disorders. Practitioners and researchers utilizing the binaural-beat technology developed by the Monroe Institute have produced impressive changes in individual EEG patterns. Given the strong support of brainwave modification, and the efficacy of the  binaural-beat sound patterns to modify brainwave patterns, it is logical and advantageous to make use of a binaural-beat sound based protocol. Since theta activity is positively related to individual level of hypnotic susceptibility, it follows that the employment of a protocol designed to increase frontal theta activity could also mediate an increase in hypnotic susceptibility. It was proposed that a binaural beat protocol designed to increase anterior theta activity will result in a significant increase in theta measure (% activity), and a related increase in hypnotic susceptibility, as measured by standardized instruments. In consideration of the previous association between hypnotic susceptibility and anterior theta activity, the potential exists for differential increases in theta activity relative to hypnotizability group. The examination of potential differential changes in theta activity relative to initial level of hypnotizability could provide further data supporting the association of theta activity and hypnotic susceptibility.

Research Hypotheses

Hypothesis l. Increases in hypnotic susceptibility, after exposure to binaural-beat sound stimulation protocol, will be observed for all participants from pre to post-measures. The Significant Change Index (SCI) was used to evaluate change between pre and post SHSS:C scores. Graphing was used to provide visual interpretation of individual level of hypnotizability.

Hypothesis 2. Theta activity will increase in all individuals as a result of the binaural beat sound stimulation protocol. The C Statistic was performed on the time series of theta measures across baseline and stimulus sessions for each individual.

Hypothesis 3. Increases in theta activity after exposure to binaural-beat sound stimulation protocol YAII be of greatest significance in individuals in the medium-hypnotizable group. The C Statistic was performed on the time series of theta measures across baseline and stimulus sessions for each individual.

Hypothesis 4. Increases in theta activity after exposure to binaural-beat sound stimulation protocol will be of least significance in individuals in the low hypnotizable groups. The C Statistic was performed on the time series of theta measures across baseline and stimulus sessions for each individual.

METHOD

Participants

Six participants were selected from a pool of Northern Arizona University (NAU) undergraduates who were administered the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C (SHSS:C, Weitzenhoffer & Hilgard, 1962). The six participants were grouped according to varying degrees of hypnotizability (two lows, two mediums, and two highs) for participation in the stimulus sessions. The variations in hypnotic susceptibility within each group were minimal, assuring the participants were relatively homogeneous in terms of initial hypnotic susceptibility measures. To reduce the risk of attrition during this study, participants were paid $40.00 each for participation in the study.

Instrument

Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C (SHSS:C). Each participant’s score on the SHSS:C served as a baseline measure of hypnotic susceptibility. Also, after completion of the three stimulus sessions, raw scores were obtained on the SHSS:C for each participant a second time. The raw scores obtained in this post treatment evaluation provided an index of each participants’ hypnotic susceptibility level after exposure to the  binaural-beat stimulus protocol. The following general hypnotizability level designation and raw-score ranges are used with the SHSS:C: (a) low hypnotizable (0-4), (b) medium hypnotizable (5-7), (c) high hypnotizable (8-10), and (d) very-high hypnotizable (1 1-12). The Kuder-Richardson total scale reliability index, which provides a measure of the degree of consistency of participants’ responses, was reported by E. R. Hilgard (1965) as .85, with retest reliability coefficients ranging from .60 to .77 over the range of twelve items on the SHSS: C.

Apparatus

EEG-Recording. The NRS-2D (Lexicor Medical Technology, Inc.) is a miniaturized two channel Electroencephalograph (EEG) system. The device is approximately one inch tall, three inches wide, and six inches long and is connected directly to a 486 computer via the parallel port. It has a built in impedance meter and operates with both BIOLEX (BLX) neurotherapy software and NeuroLex (NLX) EEG acquisition software. The BLX and NLX systems comprise an array of tools including an audio/visual display system, graphing and reporting features, fast Fourier transformation and spectral analysis of complex wave forms, as well as conventional EEG recordings. An artifact inhibit feature stops all recording v,/hen the artifact (e.g., eye movement or other muscle signals) exceeds the selected artifact inhibit amplitude threshold. The computerized system was used to measure participants’ theta activity for each 2-second epoch. In the EEG data analysis, fast Fourier transformation was performed, and a power spectrum calculated, for each epoch.

Binaural-Beat Sound Tapes. The audio cassette tapes used in this study were produced by the Monroe Institute specifically for this study. Both a control tape and experimental tape were used in this study. The binaural beats provided in the experimental tape are unique in that they were designed to be complex brain-wave-like patterns rather than simple sine waves. The right-left differences in stereo audio signals on these tapes were assembled in a sequence to produce a dynamic wave pattern (brain-wave-like) as compared to a static, uniform sine wave pattern. Specifically, the experimental tape used in this experiment was produced with a binaural-beat pattern that represents a theta brainwave pattern of high hypnotic susceptibility. The Monroe Institute provided objective data verifying the binaural-beat components imbedded in the experimental tape, both in wave form and frequency spectra formats.

The experimental tape was produced with pink sound and theta binaural beats imbedded in carrier tones. The control tape was produced with pink sound and tones without binaural beats.

Procedures

General. For all participants, informed consent forms were provided. All participants mere debriefed at the completion of the study. All participants, at each stage of the study, were treated according to the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association.

Participant EEG Setup. During all sessions earlobes and the forehead electrode sites were cleaned with Ten-20 Abrasive EEG Prep Gel to decrease skin resistance prior to attaching EEG electrodes. Ten-20 EEG conductive paste was used as a conduction medium to fill the cups of silver-chloride electrodes. One monopolar EEG derivation was used, located according to the 10-20 system (Jasper, 1958) at FZ; the references were linked ears (R1, R2).

Participant Binaural-Beat Audio Setup. During all sessions participants wore headphones, providing audio input of pink sound and tones (baseline) or pink sound and theta binaural beats imbedded in carrier tones (stimulus).

Multiple Baseline EEG Recordings. The length of pre-stimulus session baseline for participants within each category of hypnotizability varied as follows: the duration of baseline recordings for Participant #1 was 5 minutes, Participant #2 was 10 minutes. For each category of hypnotizability, the two participants were exposed to a baseline session of either 5 or 10 minutes, and three 20 minute stimulus sessions. This procedure allowed participants to be exposed to the same stimulus sessions under “time-lagged” conditions. This approach is the foundation of the Multiple Baseline single-subject experimental design, which allows for examination of changes in stimulus sessions relative to the varied baseline periods.

Theta Measures. EEG measures of percent theta activity at frontal (FZ) placement were recorded during all sessions. Data were recorded at each 2second epoch during EEG recording. These data support trend analysis over time of baseline and stimulus sessions.

Hypnotizability Measures. Pre-stimulus data for level of hypnotizability (SHSS:C scores) were collected for each participant during the selection process. Post-stimulus sessions data for level of hypnotizability (SHSS:C scores) were collected following each participant’s last stimulus session.

Baseline Session. During this session participants were given information regarding-. (a) general understanding of theta binaural-beat sound stimulation and (b) the purpose/protocol of stimulus sessions. Prior to recording of EEG data, the experimenter instructed participants to close their eyes and to take two to three minutes to allow themselves to become relaxed. The experimenter instructed the participant to visualize herself as relaxed and comfortable and still, to experience a feeling of inner quietness. This procedure was used to allow the participant’s brainwave activity to stabilize prior to baseline recordings.

Binaural-Beat Stimulus sessions. The duration of each session was 20 minutes. Prior to recording of EEG data, the participants were allowed 2-3 minutes for stabilization of brainwave activity as previously described in the baseline session procedures. Prior to exiting the room, the experimenter started the cassette tape, the EEG recording function, and turned off the overhead light, leaving a single table lamp as a source of illumination in the room. The stimulus session was preset to terminate at 20 minutes. Each participant completed three sessions over a period of one week.

Interviews. Following each stimulation session, each participant was asked about her experience. This free-flow interview was used to assess the participants’ subjective experience of listening to the binaural-beat sound stimulation, and to test for adverse effects or reactions on the part of each participant.

Schedule of Sessions. The four sessions (1 baseline and 3 stimulus) were completed for each participant in two meetings within a five day period. During the initial meeting, the participants completed the first two stimulus sessions in addition to the baseline session. The sessions were scheduled in this manner to reduce participant response cost and to decrease participant attrition. Participants were allowed to take breaks of approximately 1 0 minutes between each session. The second meeting took place on the second day following the initial meeting. During this second meeting the participants completed the third stimulus session.

Data Analysis

Data were analyzed in order to evaluate changes in theta activity across sessions and changes in hypnotizability levels from pre-stimulus to post-stimulus scale administrations (SHSS:C).

The EEG data of each 2-second epoch during the baseline sessions were averaged to yield 10 data points for the 5-minute baseline recording and 20 data points for the 1 0-minute baseline recording. The EEG data for each stimulus session was averaged to yield 25 data points for each 20-minute recording.

In an effort to determine if the pretest to posttest change hypnotizability scores on the SHSS:C exceeded that which would be expected on the basis of measurement error, the Significant Change Index (SCI) as suggested by Christensen & Mendoza (1 986) was used. Descriptive techniques (graphical representations) were used to indicate the change in hypnotizability from pre to post-measures.

The C statistic was used to analyze the series of theta activity data across baseline and stimulus sessions. This approach was used to determine if a statistically significant difference existed between baseline and stimulus session observations of theta activity.

When comparing baseline and stimulus sessions observations, the C statistic provides information about changes in the level and direction between the two time series. In the determination of statistical significance of an obtained C value, a Z value is obtained from the ratio of the C value to its standard error of the mean. Graphical representations of the time series of theta activity measures were used to allow confirmation of the statistical findings by visual inspection of the data.

RESULTS

Participant Characteristics

The six participants in this study were female, ranging in age from 19 to 32. In order to facilitate association of each participant with relevant data, the following labels will be used in reference to the participants by hypnotizability group ( LOW, MED, HIGH) and by duration of baseline (1 = 5-minute baseline, 2 = 1 0-minute baseline). The three participants (one from each hypnotizability group) with 5-minute baselines are referred to as LOW1, MED1 and HIGH1, the three participants (one from each hypnotizability group) V,/ith 10 minute baselines are referred to as LOW2, MED2, and HIGH2. The majority of participants reported having no previous experience with relaxation-oriented experiences such as hypnosis, meditation, or formal relaxation training.

Test of Hypotheses

Hypothesis 1. Increases in hypnotic susceptibility, after exposure to binaural-beat sound stimulation protocol, will be observed for all participants from pre to post-measures. Both participants in the low-susceptibility group (LOW1, LOW2) increased by a raw score of 1 from pre to post-measures. Both of the participants in the medium-susceptibility group (MED1, MED2) increased to the raw score of 8. MED1 increased from a raw score of 6 to a raw score of 8, MED2 increased from a raw score of 7 to a raw score of 8. No changes in raw score values were observed with the participants in the high-susceptibility group (HIGH1, HIGH2) between pre and postmeasures. A calculation of the Significant Change Index (SCI) [used to assess pretest to posttest SHSS:C scores considering the standard error of the difference (SD) between the two test scores: SCI value > 1.65 denotes significance at p<.05 ] for each participant in the low and medium susceptibility groups revealed the following values: LOW1 – SCI = 1.96, SD =.51, p< .05; LOW2 – SCI = 1.96, SD = .51, p< .05, MED1 – SCI = 3.92, SD = .51, p< .05, MED2 – SCI = 1.96, SD =.51, p<.05. According to these calculations, a change of .84 or greater in rawscore value was required to establish a significantly different change in hypnotic susceptibility. Therefore, these data suggest that this hypothesis was supported in participants LOW1, LOW2, MED1, and MED2.

Hypothesis 2. Theta activity will increase in all individuals as a result of the binaural-beat sound protocol. Evaluation of intersession theta activity relative to baseline theta activity first required an analysis of baseline data to assure stability for subsequent comparison. In the examination of baseline trends of theta activity, the C statistic was calculated for each participant. LOW1 demonstrated no significant trend during the 5-minute baseline session (C = .18, n=10, p>.05). LOW2 demonstrated a significant downward trend during the 10-minute baseline session (C =.75, n=20, p<.05). MED1 demonstrated no significant trend during the 5-minute baseline session (C -.20, n=10, p>.05). MED2 demonstrated no significant trend during the 10-minute baseline session (C =.32, n=20, p>.05). HIGH1 demonstrated no significant trend during the 5-minute baseline session (C = -.28, n=10, p>.05). HIGH2 demonstrated no significant trend during the 10-minute baseline session (C = -.07, n=20, p>.05). In five of six participants, the baseline time series of theta activity data did not show a constant direction or trend, and indicated no departure from random variation. One participant (LOW1) demonstrated a significant downward trend. Therefore, the baseline data for all six participants provided adequate support for subsequent comparisons.

In the examination of trends in theta activity across baseline and the three binaural-beat stimulation sessions, the C statistic was calculated for each participant. LOW1 demonstrated a significant upward trend (C = .36, n=85, p<.01). LOW2 demonstrated a significant upward trend (C =.35, n=95, p<.01). MED1 demonstrated a significant downward trend (C =.74, n=85, p<.01). MED2 demonstrated a significant upward trend (C = .88, n=95, p<.01). HIGH1 demonstrated a significant upward trend (C =.70, n=85, p<.01). HIGH2 demonstrated a significant upward trend (C =.77, n=95, p<.01).

Thus, in five of six participants significant upward intersession trends in theta activity were observed. This significant intersession activity in relation to nonsignificant baseline activity provides support for this hypothesis in five of six participants.

Hypothesis 3. Increases in theta activity will be of greatest significance in the participants in the medium-hypnotizable group. An examination of the derived C statistic values for each hypnotic susceptibility group provided data regarding the relative significance of theta activity increases between groups. Mean C values for each susceptibility group (LOW, MED, HIGH) were calculated. The mean value for the medium-hypnotizable group does not include MED1, as this participant demonstrated a decrease in theta activity across stimulus sessions. Therefore, comparing the mean C value for the low and the high susceptible groups with the single C value for the medium susceptibility group which increased, the following values were obtained: LOW (M =.36), MED (M =.88), HIGH (M =.74). This analysis indicates a supportive trend in the data, but without inclusion of participant MED1, it does not provide support for this hypothesis.

Hypothesis 4. Increases in theta activity will be of least significance in the participants in the low-hypnotizable group. An examination of the derived C statistic values for each hypnotic susceptibility group provided data regarding the relative significance of theta activity increases between groups. Mean C values for each group of susceptibility (LOW, MED, HIGH) were calculated. The mean value for the medium-hypnotizable group does not include MED1, as this participant demonstrated a decrease in theta activity across stimulus sessions. The mean C values for each group of susceptibility are as follows: LOW (M =.36), MED (M = .88), HIGH (M = .74). Therefore, these data suggest support for this hypothesis.

DISCUSSION

Hypothesis l.

Increases in hypnotic susceptibility, after exposure to binaural-beat sound stimulation protocol, will be observed for all participants from pre to postmeasures. As mentioned earlier, the participants who demonstrated a significant increase in hypnotic susceptibility were Participants LOW1, LOW2, MEDI, and MED2. The participants in the high-hypnotizable group did not change in the measure of hypnotic susceptibility. Graphical analysis allowed for a simplified examination of the changes in hypnotizability levels from the pre to post binaural-beat stimulation administrations.

Inasmuch as no decreases in demonstrated raw-score values were observed across the six participants, these data suggest support of previous data indicating the relatively stable nature of hypnotic ability over time (Perry, Nadon & Button, 1992).

As previously mentioned, a potential ceiling effect may be present in the SHSS:C. The items on the SHSS:C are presented in a progressively greater difficulty. Data reported by Perry, Nadon & Button (1992) showed that 68% of the normative sample passed the first four items, and only 16% passed the last four items. The items begin relatively easy and become progressively more difficult and therefore are rank-ordered and do not meet interval level requirements. Thus, to accurately interpret of the findings of this study, the progressive organization of the SHSS:C items must be taken into consideration. The obtained changes in the medium-susceptible group may be more meaningful than observed changes in the low-susceptible group, as a change of 1 raw-score point would be a more difficult task in the medium-susceptible group than would a change of 1 raw-score point in the low-susceptible group. This indicates that the application of the Significant Change Index may not reveal the true significance of changes in hypnotic susceptibility with the SHSS:C. The organization of the SHSS:C is also an important factor in the ceiling-effect phenomena observed in the two participants in the high-susceptible group.

Low-Hypnotizable Group. The two participants in the low-hypnotizable group demonstrated modest increases in SHSS:C raw score values. Both participants LOW1 and LOW2 increased 1 raw-score value from 2 to 3. As previously suggested, the lack of initial hypnotic ability in less hypnotizable individuals often leads to unsuccessful attempts at modification of hypnotizability with this population. Although both participants in this group demonstrated only a single point increase in raw-score values on the SHSS:C, a positive increase suggests that modification of hypnotizability % with less susceptible individuals using binaural-beat stimulation can lead to positiveresults.

Medium-Hypnotizable Group. Considering the previously mentioned hierarchy of difficulty with the SHSS:C, it may be said that the two participants in the medium-hypnotizable group demonstrated the greatest increase in SHSS:C raw score values. Both participants MED1 and MED2 changed in general hypnotizability level from medium to high, with raw-scores of 6 to 8 and 7 to 8, respectively. These data also suggest support for Perry’s (1977) findings, in which successful modification of hypnotizability was most common in medium hypnotizable subjects.

These individuals appear to possess a certain essential cognitive framework or a predisposition which provides for a variety of hypnotic experiences, as demonstrated on the SHSS:C.

In relation to the effects of binaural-beat sound stimulation on hypnotic susceptibility, these data reveal mixed conclusions. An interesting point is that Participant MED1 demonstrated the largest increase in hypnotic susceptibility and also a significant decrease in theta activity in response to the binaural-beat sound stimulation. In contrast, Participant MED2 demonstrated the most significant increase in theta activity in response to the  binaural-beat sound stimulation. Therefore, these data indicate that theta activity is not the only contributing factor in hypnotic susceptibility, suggest that modification of hypnotizability with medium susceptible individuals using binaural- beat stimulation can be effective, and highlight the importance of individual variation. These data can provide a meaningful direction for researchers and practitioners of hypnosis interested in increasing hypnotic susceptibility.

High-Hypnotizable Group. The two participants in the high-hypnotizable group demonstrated no change in SHSS:C raw-score values. The possibility exists for a ceiling-effect with individuals scoring at the upper end of the SHSS:C scale. Both participants HIGH1 and HIGH2 had the same pre and post raw-scores, 9 and 10, respectively. The items or skills an individual must demonstrate to increase in raw score above 9 are cognitive items of greater difficulty including, negative and positive hallucination tasks. This potential ceiling-effect is also evident in Hilgard’s (1965) report on relative item difficulty within the SHSS:C, in which only nine percent of participants in the normative base passed the positive and negative hallucination tasks. These data suggest that those who are high in hypnotizability, in terms of the SHSS:C, may be less responsive to binaural-beat stimulation relative to individuals who demonstrate less hypnotic ability. Perhaps there is a ceiling effect on an individual’s abilityto produce theta as well.

Hypothesis 2.

Theta activity will increase in all individuals as a result of the binaural-beat sound protocol This hypothesis was supported in data from five of six participants, each showing an upward intersession trend in theta activity across stimulus periods. The subject in the medium hypnotizable group with the 5-minute baseline (MED1) demonstrated a downward intersession trend in theta activity across stimulus periods. The theta activity of Participant MED1 changed significantly in session-3. No significant change or trend in theta activity was observed for this participant prior to session-3. These data indicate that some confounding factor(s) may have been in effect during the session-3 stimulation/recording period of participant MED1.

In a post-hoc analysis of intersession theta activity, the C statistic was calculated for the five participants who demonstrated a significant increase in theta activity over the three binaural-beat stimulation periods. This analysis was employed to determine which of the three binaural-beat stimulation sessions produced the most significant increase in theta activity relative to the baseline measures. For all five participants, the data from the third stimulation session (session-3) produced C values of the highest significance relative to baseline. These third session C values follow. LOW1 (C =.49, n=35, p<.01), LOW2 (C = .67, n=45, p<.01), MED2 (C = .89, n=45, p<.01), HIGH1 (C = .62, n=35, p<.01, HIGH2 (C =.83, n=45, p<.01. These data suggest that continued exposure to binaural-beat stimulation could have an incremental positive effect on theta activity, and that in this study the most significant incremental effect was observed in the third stimulus session.

In a post-hoc analysis of intersession theta activity, the C statistic was calculated for all six participants using the combination of data from session-1 and session-2 relative to data from the baseline session. This comparison was done to further evaluate the initial effects of the binaural-beat sound stimulation. The following C values were revealed: LOW1 (C =.36, n=60, p<.01), LOW2 (C .30, n=70, p<.01), MED1 (C .11, n=60, p>.05), MED2 (C = .74, n=70, p<. 01), HIGH1 (C =.18, n=60, p>.05), HIGH2 (C =.36, n=70, p<.01). These data suggest that the binaural- beat stimulation effected an initial change (increase) in four of the six participants (LOW1, LOW2, MED2, AND HIGH2).

The two participants who did not demonstrate a significant increase in theta activity during the two initial sessions were MED1 and HIGH1. As mentioned earlier, Participant MED1 demonstrated a significant downward intersession trend across all three sessions, most obvious in session-3. The explanation of this anomalous response is uncertain, but as described in the introductory section on binaural-beat sound stimulation, a number of factors influence the EEG frequency-following response. Factors of primary interest in relation to theta activity are internal feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and overall mood-state. As theta is related to an overall relaxed state, any negative affect related to these factors could adversely affect theta production. Participant HIGH1 also demonstrated the most significant response in session-3. Participant HIGHI reported previous experience with head injury and EEG measurements. This experience involved an automobile accident in which the participant was knocked unconscious some ten years previous. Reported results of EEG at that time indicated an “abnormal” pattern during the sleep state. The relationship of possible brainwave abnormalities to measured theta activity in response to binaural-beat stimulation is not known. However, there is the possibility that the theta response of participant HIGH1 was affected by this head injury.

An additional post-hoc analysis was utilized to provide a precise evaluation of the immediate effect of the binaural- beat sound stimulation within the framework of the Multiple Baseline design. In this analysis, within each susceptibility group, the 1 0-minute baseline recording periods of Participant LOW2, MED2, and HIGH2 were compared to the 5-minute baseline recording periods appended with 5-minutes of the first stimulus session of Participants LOW1, MED1, and HIGH1. As previously stated, the participants within each susceptibility group assigned 10-minute and 5-minute baseline recording periods all demonstrated no significant upward trends in theta activity during baseline recordings. An examination of the initial five-minute stimulation period following the baseline period for the participants assigned the 5-minute baseline % within each susceptibility group revealed the following C values; LOW1 (C =.72, n=16, p<.05), MED1 (C =.27, n=16, p>.05), HIGH1 (C = .25, n=16, p>.05). The corresponding Z values for each C value stated above follow. LOW1 (Z = 2.99); MED1 (Z = 1.12); HIGH1 (Z = 1.02). Participant LOW1 demonstrated a significant upward trend during the initial 5-minute stimulus period, and participants MED1 and HIGH1 did not demonstrate a significant trend during the initial 5- minute stimulus period. As mentioned earlier, participants MED1 and HIGH1 did not demonstrate a significant increase in theta activity during the two initial sessions. In contrast, participant LOW1 demonstrated a significant increase in theta activity during all three stimulus sessions. These data highlight the power of individual differences in relation to theta brainwave activity. The observation that the initial recording of stimulus data seemed predictive of a differential theta activity response over time may be particularly important is this analysis. It may be that the significance of an initial theta activity response to binaural-beat sound stimulation is positively related to the significance of the theta activity response over time.

Hypothesis 3.

Increases in theta activity will be of greatest significance in the participants in the medium-hypnotizable group. The obtained unequal number of participants in each group, due to the exclusion of participant MED1 (this participant demonstrated a decrease in theta activity across stimulus sessions), presents difficulties in providing support for this hypothesis.

Participant MED2 demonstrated the highest significant overall increase in theta activity across the baseline and stimulus sessions primarily manifested in session-2 and session-3. Further support for this hypothesis is also indicated in the previously mentioned post-hoc analyses of (a) session-1 and session-2 combined relative to baseline, and (b) session-3 comparison to baseline. In both analyses, participant MED2 demonstrated the highest significant overall increase in theta activity.

Hypothesis 4.

Increases in theta activity will be of least significance in the participants in the low-hypnotizable group,  The observed unequal number of participants in each group, due to the exclusion of participant MED1 (this participant demonstrated a decrease in theta activity across stimulus sessions), also presents difficulties in providing support for this hypothesis. Even with this consideration, the observation that both participants LOW1 and LOW2 demonstrated the least significant overall increase in theta activity across the baseline and stimulus sessions suggests support for this hypothesis.

Conclusions

The findings of this study provide support for the efficacy of the binaural-beat sound stimulation process, pioneered by the Monroe Institute, in effecting an increase in theta brainwave activity. As mentioned earlier, the baseline and stimulus tapes differed only in the presence or absence of the binaural-beat stimulation (i.e., both contained pink sound and tones). Each participant demonstrated no significant upward trend in baseline recordings of theta activity. Thus, the observed trends in theta activity following introduction of the binaural-beat sounds allows one to state, with a good deal of certainty, that it is the effect of the binaural-beat sounds and not merely the passage of time, the measurement operation, or some other independent event that effected the observed increases in theta activity. During the post-session interviews, no descriptions of unpleasant experiences were reported, Individual reports of each stimulation session varied from profoundly insightful to pleasant and relaxing.

The single-subject experimental design used in this study allowed for examination of the effects of binaural beat stimulation on individual theta activity over time. With single-subject methodology there is no need to compromise the effects of stimulation on different subjects by averaging across groups as is done with group designs.

The data in this study relative to hypnotizability suggest support for the stability of hypnotic susceptibility over time and suggest support for previous data showing differential response to modification of hypnotizability relative to initial susceptibility level. This support is evident in the fact that no participant decreased in hypnotic susceptibility over time and in the differential participant responses across general hypnotic susceptibility levels. Surprisingly, the most significant increase in hypnotic susceptibility was observed in the participant with the most significant decrease in theta activity in response to the binaural-beat sound stimulation. Even though the significance of the decrease in theta activity for this participant was explained entirely by third session recordings, it is difficult to draw conclusions regarding the relationship of theta activity to hypnotic susceptibility when reviewing the findings of this study. Overall, this study indicates that theta activity is related to, but cannot uniquely explain, the variation in hypnotic susceptibility.

Limitations. Although the single-subject experimental design used in this study provided a direct examination of individual responses over time, the design of this study is not without inherent limitations. For example, as the participants in this study are not representative of the general population, it would be difficult to generalize the findings of this study, even to a similar group of females. It is worth noting, however, that the issue of external validity, which often essentially relates to possible inconsistencies in the data due to small sample sizes, is tempered somewhat in this study by the adequate number of recorded data points within each subject.

The demographic data were collected post-hoc, and thus prevented the homogeneous selection of subjects based on such variables as previous experience with EEG recordings or head-injury. Also, data collected in intersession interviews was not recorded for further analysis. This is unfortunate, as information regarding the subjective experience of binaural-beat stimulation is meaningful not only in and of itself but could have provided data relating to the differential participant theta activity in response to binaural-beat sound stimulation observed in this study.

Future Research.

In future related research with the use of binaural-beat stimulation, the time of exposure could be increased. An increase in exposure time could provide important data relating to modification of theta brainwave activity and hypnotic susceptibility. This could be easily accomplished by using a home-practice protocol, not unlike homepractice relaxation training commonly used in behavioral medicine settings with disorders such as migraine headaches. This type procedure would allow for extended stimulation periods in a true applied setting. Another possible line of research could involve the use of binaural-beat stimulation within background music during hypnotic procedures in an effort to increase participant response to hypnotic susceptibility evaluation measures. The use of “background support” via binaural-beat sound stimulation could also prove a valuable asset to clinical practitioners as well. Data from this study may also provide a foundation for subsequent group comparison designs directed toward the generalization of stimulation effects across larger groups of individuals.

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Music and Hemi-Sync in the Treatment of Children with Developmental Disabilities

Open Ear, 2, pp. 14-17, 1996

ABSTRACT 

The role of music and Hemi-Sync has been explored in the rehabilitation of 20 developmentally disabled children. The children ranged in age from 5 months to 8 years with an average age of 2 years. Within the broad category of developmental disability the children had received specific diagnoses of cerebral palsy (16), mental retardation (10 ), autism (5 ), and uncontrolled seizure disorder (4 ). The children were referred for therapy because of severe feeding and pre-speech problems. Eighteen of the children were non-verbal and non-ambulatory because of the motor incoordination of cerebral palsy or an overall delay in development.

THE PROGRAM 

Music was included in the child’s program as a way of creating an auditory environment to make learning easier. Music with a regular rhythm and a tempo of 60 beats-per-minute was selected to provide a quieting background and a regular rhythm and rate which was similar to the tempo of the heartbeat, sucking and walking rhythms. This structure of music has also been shown to increase the learning of verbal materials and enhance their retention. It is also probable that the regular rhythm and specific tempo of this music contributes to a greater symmetry of function of the two hemispheres of the brain. Largo and adagio movements from baroque composers such as Vivaldi, Bach, Albinoni and Correlli were selected for the therapy program. Modem compositions by Halpern (Comfort Zone) and Hoffman (Mind-Body Tempo) which contain the same structural elements were also used.

The response to this “superleaming music” was very positive. Most children become calmer and less distractible during the therapy sessions. Several showed a more normal response to touch and an increased ability to organize sensory information. The improved reactions were noted during the therapy period. There appeared to be minimal carryover of the improved sensory organization.

Because of the positive response to this type of nonverbal auditory facilitation of learning, a comparison of the child’s response to music alone and music containing Hemi-Sync signals was begun. In the initial phases of the program, the Metamusic series had not yet been produced. Robert Monroe imbedded a special tape of Halpern’s Comfort Zone with Hemi-Sync signals. This enabled a comparison of the child’s response to therapy under three conditions:

    1. no music,
    2. Comfort Zone and
    3. Comfort Zone + Hemi-Sync.

When the child showed a neutral or positive response to the Hemi-Sync version of Comfort Zone, other music containing the Hemi-Sync signals was introduced into the program. This included Metamusic Blue, Metamusic Green, Soft and Still and a wide variety of quiet background music combined with the Hemi-Sync synthesizer.

The child’s non-verbal responses to therapy were carefully documented. Each change of expression, body movement, shift of attention etc., was interpreted as a means of communicating like or dislike, comfort or discomfort with what was occurring at that moment. These non-verbal reactions became the clearest clues indicating whether a musical or Hemi-Sync background was acceptable to the child’s system. Non-verbal responses were positive in 18 of the 20 children. Two children showed negative responses. One older boy became more distractible and hyperirritable; a five-month-old girl screamed with the Hemi-Sync music. Both children tended to become irritable with high frequency sounds and responded negatively to any music containing higher pitches. It is possible that the high frequency tones which are often used in creating the Hemi-Sync signal may have been the interfering factors for these children.

The frequency with which Hemi-Sync was used and the total length of time in a program with a Hemi-Sync environment varied. The 18 children who continued to receive therapy combined with Hemi-Sync music were exposed to the signals primarily during their therapy periods. These varied from one to eight 45 minute therapy sessions per month. Hemi-Sync tapes were provided to the families of 11 children for use during one play-learning session at home and while falling asleep at night. The total length of time spent using Hemi-Sync tape varied from one month to three years. The majority of the children were involved with the tapes for approximately 4-6 months.

The purpose of the observations was to obtain a clinical impression of the role which Hemi-Sync in a musical format could play in the feeding and pre-speech rehabilitation of the child. The study was explorational in nature and formal data collection was not included. Clinical records were maintained which described the activities worked on, the child’s response and the type of auditory background which was used.

TRENDS 

Fifteen of the 18 children who continued to receive the music containing Hemi-Sync showed positive changes in behaviors worked on in therapy. During treatment sessions which did not utilize a musical or Hemi-Sync background, these changes were not evident. In several instances behavioral changes were noted with the “superlearning music” background; however the degree of change and permanence of change was more pronounced when Hemi-Sync was combined with the music. Three of the 18 children showed minimal or inconsistent changes in their behaviors with Hemi-Sync.

Five behavioral areas showed the greatest change as a result of treatment provided with a Hemi-Sync background:

Disorganized Sensory Input may be described as difficulty processing and integrating multiple sensory information. The child is unable to filter, discriminate and organize sensory input. The world becomes an over stimulating, chaotic environment. Reactions such as tactile hypersensitivity, irritability, disorganized movement patterns and distractibility are common. In response the child shows a variety of characteristics which may be interpreted as an attempt to cope or survive. These include withdrawal with poor eye contact, and rhythmical stereotypes such as rocking, flapping and spinning. Because of a lack of interactive response to the environment, these children are often diagnosed as severely retarded or autistic.

Five of the seven children whose behavior was characterized by disorganized sensory input showed major improvement as a result of the Hemi-Sync environment. Changes included:

    1. a reduction in tactile hypersensitivity and overall sensory defensiveness,
    2. an improved focus of attention for learning sensory discrimination,
    3. a reduction or elimination of coping strategies (withdrawal, poor eye contact, rocking, general autistic behaviors),
    4. improved sensory-motor organization resulting in improved movement patterns
    5. greater spontaneous exploration of the environment.

Two children with uncontrolled seizures showed a marked reduction in seizures as their ability to organize sensory input increased. The two children who had negative reactions to Hemi-Sync showed severe problems with sensory organization. It is hypothesized that the signal added to their overall sensory processing problems.

Distractibility can be defined as a less-severe manifestation of sensory disorganization. Children with this behavioral characteristic typically had difficulty sustaining a focus of attention to a task. Shifts of attention occurred with tactile, auditory and visual distractions. Several children were described as being hyperactive. A mild degree of tactile defensiveness was also seen. This correlation between tactile defensiveness and a hyperactive attention has been previously described in the literature. As a result of the poor focus of attention these children showed difficulty learning or retaining information and poor sustaining of coordinated muscle contraction. Increases in abnormal muscle tone and abnormal movement patterns were associated with attentional shifts in two children with severe athetoid cerebral palsy.

Four of the seven children whose learning was affected by poor focus of attention showed clinically measurable gains when treatment was provided with a Hemi-Sync background. Attention was more focused and the child was able to attend to activities involving listening and processing information. Two children with expressive language delays spoke their first words within a month of introducing the Hemi-Sync music. Three children made major gains in oral feeding and motor skills as a result of a more sustained focus of attention.

Three of the seven children in this group showed minimal gains in improving their attentional focus and reducing hyperactivity. Each of these children had a history of severe respiratory disorder. This varied from structural lung disorders related to prematurity to severe respiratory incoordination with irregular breathing and breath-holding. One child was on a portable oxygen unit. As a group, these children were unresponsive to Hemi-Sync. On days when the breathing was less stressful two children were able to respond with greater attention and less hyperactivity. One child who eventually showed major gains in focusing attention was initially highly inconsistent in his initial response to Hemi-Sync. Because there was no negative reaction and the music assisted the therapist in meeting his needs in a more creative fashion, Hemi-Sync music was continued as a background to therapy. Over a three month period (24 sessions) a change was observed in his breathing patterns. As the breathing became more regular and breath-holding incidents reduced, his attentional response to Hemi-Sync improved and he showed a consistently positive response to his therapy sessions. This was particularly significant since the no measurable gains had been seen in therapy for 9 months. It is possible that the other children with respiratory problems would also have profited from a longer trial with Hemi-Sync.

Motor Incoordination Difficulties are characteristic of children with cerebral palsy. The connection between the mind and body has received relatively little attention in these children. The involuntary body movements associated with athetoid and ataxic cerebral palsy frequently make it difficult for the child to focus attention for learning. In a similar fashion, difficulty sustaining a focus of attention can increase the involuntary shifts in muscle tone and abnormal movement patterns. Difficulties can include respiratory incoordination, involuntary movement and increases in muscle tone during thinking, and loss of postural stability when distracted.

Three children initially showed major difficulties in the relationship between attention and movement. Gains during the period of Hemi-Sync usage included:

    1. regularization of breathing patterns with more sustained vocalization,
    2. more sustained trunk control and postural stability,
    3. more normal movement patterns during sleep at night with greater ease of handling for dressing in the morning
    4. reduction of incoordination of feeding movements, and
    5. easier learning of new motor patterns during therapy.

Fear of Change in Vulnerable Areas is common in disabled children. who have had a stormy medical history. Long periods of hospitalization can create a deep-seated distrust of adults and new experiences. Severe respiratory problems can create an underlying fear of any experiences which stress breathing. Children with severe feeding problems often experience repeated failures and perceived threats to survival as they deal with problems of choking, aspiration and tube feedings. As the child deals with negative or stressful experiences and repeated failures, he begins to erect behavioral barriers which protect against further failure or perceived danger. These barriers can make it difficult for the tube-fed child to develop the oral motor skills which could eventually lead to oral feeding.

The addition of Hemi-Sync and music to the oral motor treatment program was highly beneficial for eight children who were fed by gastrostomy tube. There was less overprotection of the mouth and respiratory system and a greater willingness to use the mouth for exploration and discovery. It became easier for the child to develop a trust in the guidance of the therapist. It was also easier for the therapist to trust the child’s inner wisdom and develop a program which introduced new experiences without pushing.

Benefits to Others Sharing the Hemi-Sync Environment with the Child are seen as part of the overall change. When Hemi-Sync music becomes part of the therapy or home environment, it creates a shared envelope of sound which surrounds the child, therapist and family members. Changes during therapy sessions are related to the direct effect of the signals on the child’s central nervous system and the indirect effect of the signals on the information processing abilities of the therapist and parents. Because the Hemi-Sync signals contribute to a greater balance of activity of right and left hemispheres and cortical and subcortical areas of the brain, the adult working with the child is able to draw from a full repertoire of information processing abilities. There appears to be a greater awareness of non-verbal or subtle communicative signals and a greater trust of intuitive knowledge which may guide the therapy session.

Parents have reported changes in their own reactions to activities with the child when the tapes were used at home. One mother volunteered that she felt very relaxed when feeding her son and less angry and impatient with his feeding problems. Another mother was initially quiet and withdrawn during therapy sessions held at her home. She was often out of the room during therapy. She was interested in using Hemi-Sync tapes at home because she knew that her son was happier with the music. Within a month of regular Hemi-Sync use at home, she was more outgoing, wanted to be present during therapy sessions and offered more spontaneous comments about his progress and needs. Changes have also been observed in brothers and sisters. This was particularly evident when tapes were played for 45 minutes as children who shared a room were going to sleep. One sibling showed a reduction in bed-wetting and another showed major improvements in her school work.

CONCLUSIONS 

The results of this informal study show that Hemi-Sync in a musical format can be an effective adjunct to a pre-speech and feeding rehabilitation program. It serves to enhance the effectiveness of a program which is appropriate to the child’s needs. The fifteen children (75% of the group) who made gains in the program had not made similar gains when the program was implemented without the Hemi-Sync background. Significant changes occurred in thirteen of these children within the first two Hemi-Sync sessions.

It is important to establish a point of reference or baseline for the child’s behavior and skills without the use of the Hemi-Sync music background. Any changes which occur as Hemi-Sync is added to the program can be interpreted more meaningfully. The effectiveness of Hemi-Sync appeared to be cumulative. Children responded more consistently to sessions with Hemi-Sync as their experience with the signals increased. As the child experienced a more balanced and organized way of dealing with the sensory input for learning it became easier to re-create this new organization when the Hemi-Sync signals were not present. It is significant that major permanent changes were seen in children who experienced Hemi-Sync less than three hours per month. Hemi-Sync contributes to long-term changes in the child’s abilities and ways of organizing information.