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Silver Linings: Binaural Beats for Study and Writing

For some time now, I’ve been using binaural beats to help me focus while I am writing. I am not convinced that the binaural beats themselves help me focus, but for some reason the ritual of putting a binaural track, taking my headphones and committing to finish something makes my productivity soar.

The “science” behind the effect of binaural beats seems to be incomplete at most, and very often fishy. Most likely, using a white noise generator would give me the same results – and I don’t think I’m experiencing anything else than a placebo effect.

Nonetheless – when I really need to start cranking out a lot of words, and music makes me irritable because I start to listen to the lyrics or decipher the notes that every instrument is playing, I use these binaural beats to reach a state of elevated focus.

With that said, and -hopefully- convincing you guys that I’m not the person to take any spiriwiri mumbojumbo that has not passed some rigorous testing and that is back by Good Science, I would like to invite you to try out binaural beats and see if they help your study and writing too (or a white noise generator sound).

What are binaural beats?
Binaural beats result when two nearly similar frequencies are played in each ear when you are listening to headphones. Your brain will process this information, and you will “hear” a third frequency. For example, when one ear hears 100Hz and the other ear 110Hz, you will hear 10Hz as a result.

What do binaural beats do
According to the alternative medicine community, if you hear this 10Hz difference, your brain waves will increase by 10Hz too. Because there are different frequencies of the brainwaves, it is said that the binaural beat that you hear, can induce a certain state of mind.

Benefit of binaural tracks
Binaural tracks are similar to white noise generators, although they seem to have a little more variation to themselves. I quite like the binaural tracks that are combined with sounds of running water. Since most tracks on YouTube are either 30 minutes or an hour long, you can commit to finishing a certain task within half an hour or an hour, take your headphones, switch on the track and finish it before the track ends.
It’s a trick you are playing on your mind, but one that you might like to try out and see if it improves your productivity, for example with this track”

Have you tried using binaural beats during study or writing? How is your experience?

Share with your peers!
This Post Has 65 Comments
  1. I use them almost every day recently. I find the ones based on concentration and anti-depression work absolutely wonderfully when trying to clear your head and aim on one thing. Espicially ones that the sound does not change, and repeats, is mesmerizing and great for the mind IMO.

  2. I don't know if 'binaural beats' are proven by science or pseudo-science or it's even placebo effect, but I manage to get its benefits every time I listen to these. I tried only alpha frequency to help me study and I feel that I can concentrate much better! I tried it to relax and everytime I listen to these before hour I go to bed I get sleepy and I fall asleep much quicker. Last night I slept like a dead! 😀

  3. If I read about binaural beats, it all looks like pseudo-science to me, and I think a lot of it is placebo effect – but our minds are so wonderful that we can get really good effects through it. I have the same results with some favorite CDs: I have 3 \”super-writing\” records, that make me extremely productive, and there is 1 record I used to listen to every single night before sleeping for 1,5 years – that made me sleep like a rose.

  4. I'd like to conduct my own experiments with them, not knowing which frequencies supposedly induce which result with a third party. Even if its not a complete science executing the scientific method to see if the third party listener describes the effect similarly to what the beat is suppose to induce should be enough for some light to be shed one way or the other.

  5. I've been using white noise, brown noise, rain, often with bin aural beats for a while now. Classical music is also great. The effectiveness depends on the activity I'm doing, and the mood I'm in. It's also great to be able to block out background talking or noises with these sounds without lyrical, rhythmatic music. I've also found another music, which is really great – indian classical flute music – have a search for Hari Prasad Chaurasia 🙂

  6. So how should I utilize this? I have read that I should listen to the \”beats\” for 20-30 minutes before attempting to study. The problem is that I don't have 20-30 minutes to waste before studying.

  7. This is a great article! I've been using binaural beats for years now and they really help me to focus and study when I'm trying to get stuff done. I also use them to relax and fall asleep sometimes.

  8. I've never been any good at 'meditating', but I knew a condition I have would greatly improve if I could figure it out. Binaural beats got me there and changed a lot. I know it can be labeled as pseudo science, but I don't think it is. If there wasn't something to it, I would have stopped years ago.I like to see that they are getting more attention (though they have been around for a long time now). I hope more questions get asked! Sooner or later we'll get more answers and research…hopefully.

  9. Why does everyone impulsively call it a placebo effect? And why does everyone say that like it's a bad thing? In a sense, of course it's a placebo effect- any way you want to look at it binaural beats are something the individual does for himself. Trying to use a trance for psychological benefits without believing in the trance is like trying to bake brownies without plugging the oven in. Science doesn't even know how to explain the placebo effect anyway 🙂

  10. I heard Gamma is great for studying and writing. I like and I also will play light music without lyrics just to help awake-ness. Sometimes the beats can get a little drone-y in my head. (Although I enjoy the rain video posted above. For music I have found in combo with either of the first two work extremely well for me.

  11. I have been using binaural beats for years and they have really helped me study and focus. It's great they you're spreading the word about this remarkable technology!

  12. I like using them. The science? Who knows at this point, I'm using them to stimulate creativity for writing fiction… So good luck even figuring out how to measure that empirically.My hypotheses is that they do \”work\” in at least inducing some placebo effect, and perhaps the trippy effect does create a useful creative buzz. Seems possible that when someone reads the description 'digital drug, acid trip' or 'study aid' some technical sounding babble about how it induces this or that brainwave effect, then plugs in their headphones and gets down to their project. They are at the very least motivated and able to focus on the project. Which means they do in fact work. Some of the ones I like on youtube claim to open the third eye or balance chakras or some other nonsense, but if you like the tone and it creates focus what the hippie you uploaded it says about it is irrelevant, to me at least. Spotify has a bunch of these tracks as well if you're interested. Thanks for the post, enjoyed it.

  13. Thank you! And I agree – the chakra spiriwiri stuff has me raise my eyebrows, but I do like how they help silence out all the noise around me, and don't break my concentration like some music with lyrics (to which I start listening)

  14. I have had success using binaural beats for lucid dreaming as well, though I have been able to invoke lucid dreaming without them before, the beat definitely makes it easier. The track I have is only 15 mins long so I just play it on repeat throughout the night so I'm listening to it when I reach the dream phase of the sleep cycle. Of course you have to believe for anything to work. If you fill your mind with negative self talk say about writing a paper of course you're going to be frustrated and miserable. It will take longer to finish and not be your highest quality work. However you can have the complete opposite results simply by changing your self talk to positive.The human brain has been thoroughly studied by science so claims are made on exactly how it works. Yet we still know very little about the complete system and as its always said we only use a small percentage of our brains capacity.I think to study this scientifically you should have four groups; two binaural groups and two white noise groups. One of each of the groups will be told what the expected feeling is supposed to be while the other is told simply that they will be asked how they feel after the experiment. Of course you would need a large number of participants to put together any true data on the subject which I think is the main pitfall to any studies like this done thus far.In addition, our social conditioning has made our ideology of what can and can not be done is often very rigid. Therefore, scientifically I feel a study of binaural beats on children would be rather interesting. An age group just old enough to express their feelings but still young enough to not have their imagination destroyed by the education system, their parents and the societal norm.You can not achieve that which you don't believe.

  15. In addition, why are people using basic numbers like 200Hz and 210Hz for binaural beats? Why not use a frequency range whose resonant frequency equals that of the cosmic resonance of sacred geometry (432Hz or 528Hz)

  16. If I could guess at anything, considering people's reactions to this and my own experiences, the sounds cut off a lot of sound around you. As well, I think it may also cut off the noise inside you. For those with depressive symptoms it may silence that inner critic. That being said it may be a good way of eliminating auditory distractions whether they are real or imagined. It would be interesting to see scientists put this to the test to see what effects (positive or negative) these sounds can create.

  17. Sorry, I think they are absolutely horrible. Irritating and aggravating. I shut them off within seconds. Just as bad as the isochronic tones and whatever else gawd-awful noise they have come up with.

  18. I tend to think they have an effect ….. tried for various affects and noticed changes that were not part of my objectives such as a greatly reduced need/want for tobacco products was one as well as generally more observant. …. and experimentally with psilocybin and binaurals the effect is greatly intensified on mild dose compared with and without binaurals and with binaural beats greatly augments the effects of psilocybin

  19. Ugh. Binaural beats. Makes me heave faster than food poisoning. I don't know how more people aren't nauseated by it, or don't get migraines from it, or aren't otherwise negatively affected by this crap. Someone's idea of a joke, I think – and paying customers are the punchline, simply because they believe the fake hype and then think there's something wrong with them if they don't claim it 'worked wonders' for them.

  20. I’ve recently begun experimenting with using binaural beats to help me focus while reading and writing. I came across them while looking for ways to block out distracting sounds in my household.

  21. I agree completely. I had read the article and these comments, and a placebo effect can be all the difference in life and death. If a patient truly believes that those water pills will cure him and then they do, how amazing is that?

  22. Actually, binaural beats have been proven to be a dud so placebo effect indeed. However, the new fad is something from Brainfm. I've been using it and its awesome. Sadly, it is a paid service but lets you have 7 free session to trial without having to pay anything. Take a look and see for yourself.

  23. But then science doesn't need to explain *away* a placebo effect. It's real, and it even might be beneficial; however, science *must* differentiate between direct effects (which are 'real', consistent between subjects/experiments, and which can be replicated) and subjective effects like placebo/nocebo effects.As far as I can see, scientific literature on the subject is extremely thin, and that which has been published is methodologically flawed: most are small (N=~8), uncontrolled, and unblinded. These open up the results to three major sources of statistical bias, rendering any conclusion invalid. If binaural beats do have a (positive) physiological effect (which, so far, has not been demonstrated) this could mean a loss to (medical) science. As far as the psychological effects go: listening to normal music has been demonstrated time and again to have positive effects on mood, concentration, composure, etc. Presuming sound is sound — and again, there has been no demonstration of any relevant effect at all in an even remotely rigorous experiment — I fail to see why that would be any different with 'binaural beats' ().

  24. Really? Then what about the triple blind study? You people are so dependent on your roles as critics you missed the delta theta wave studies. Of course if any of you knew a damn thing you would have already realized that relaxing music can and does have the same effect

  25. I don't wait around for the science when something makes sense to me…AND with my own creative thinking…my mother has dementia and although it's not sufficient, it does help. I 'see' the physical effect on her. Anyone reading this with someone with brain dysfunction…try it. Sound therapy (and light therapy also) does work.

  26. and I'll add, just an MA here in the soft sciences so I'm free to think whatever I wish and I creatively create solutions…and I fully believe by what I experience personally and what I see in my mother that it does activate the vagus nerve.I'm so happy to have some treatments I can do for her.

  27. I used binaural beats for years without any knowledge of which frequencies were supposed to have given effects. I used the brainwave apps by Banzai Labs, which takes listeners through “programs” often consisting of multiple beat frequencies which are delivered in stages (for example, the lucid dreaming program is a 7-stage program designed to bring the listener into a sleep state and then into an aware state while he remains asleep. Side note: this particular program brought on sleep paralysis every single time I tried it). I tried different programs with consistently inconsistent results (that is, some programs worked and some didn't, but the ones that worked always worked and the ones that didn't never did).After several years of using these pre-packaged programs, I decided to download Binaural by Giorgio Calderolla, an app that would let me select a beat frequency to play indefinitely. To combat derealization and brain fog, I decided to play 40Hz beats all day for a couple weeks, because Binaural associated high beta/gamma waves with activity and problem solving. In my life, have never been more anxious and irritable than I was for those several days, and I had absolutely no clue why. I was ready to punch anyone and everyone in the face for no particular reason.After a while, I suspected that it may have been the 40Hz beats and went back to Banzai Labs’ app. No more irritability. That day, as soon as I got home from work, I looked up the effects of different frequencies of binaural beats, and lo and behold: prolonged exposure to high beta/gamma waves results in heightened anxiety and irritability.I was skeptical about the efficacy of binaural beats until this experience, and now that I’m better informed about their effects, I can utilize them more intelligently.I will add that my experience has not validated the “entrainment” aspect of binaural beats: I have not experienced prolonged effects for more than a few minutes after using binaural beats, and I certainly haven’t experienced any trends in emotion or cognition over time that could not be attributed to other factors such as personal growth/development, changes in circumstances, sleep patterns, or even diet.

  28. I use them to lucid dream every night and I will share my method.. It isn't the beat necessarily as any repetitive sound you can easily recognize will do. Simply have the sound repeating throughout the night. as you fall asleep concentrate on the sound as being your guide to the lucid state. When you start the dream the sound will be incorporated in some way and if you can recognize it then you can realize you are in a dream and take control of it. It takes some practice but if you do it every night you will get better.. It took a few months for me but now I can manage to do it 95% of the time!

  29. It's important to remember that Asprin was prescribed for 80 years before anyone understood the science behind it. As a board-certified music therapist myself, observable, clinical effects of music have been written about in the literature for 65 years, but it was only in the last 20 years that the field of neuroscience been able to decode the physiology behind what we observed clinically.

  30. There's a post coming up on the 4th of July with my favorite youtube videos for binaural beats. Lately, I've been using them in the background while I have music on spotify or in windows media player.

  31. I was first introduced to binaural beats 5 years ago when I was under considerable stress, not sleeping and having significant headaches (no medical reasons). A friend passed to me some binaural tracks for these specific issues and I have been using them ever since. I struggle with concentration, memory and usually working in stressful conditions. I have also used relaxation beats – especially to assist with sleeping and have discovered that those beats not designed for sleeping (ie where I fall asleep and another track plays automatically) that I have wild dreams that I normally would not experience. For this reason, I have now saved all the tracks on separate playlists so that this doesn't happen. I've referred others to binaural beats for different reasons – sleep – concentration – study and I am a true believer – whatever it's doing – it works !

  32. I use them sometimes. I think the subject is worth some rigorous studies. They've caused me to have some slight seizures, when I have used a high number of hertz. But I am definitely more productive for a while when I use a recommended range, which have still caused slight seizures. The seizures that they have caused are not to the point where I have been rolling around biting my tongue. I just start twitching, feeling sick, and can't look at a computer screen or t.v. for a while. I have had worst from other things. One time I woke up with my eyes moving around crazy, and I was paralyzed, like I was in REM sleep. Not sure if that was a seizure, but I was able to force myself to move and stop with a lot of effort. That may NOT have been a seizure, but it was 14 years ago and I haven't worried about it. If I have had an energy drink on an empty stomach, I'll probably get the same feeling that I get from binaural beats, and have to go outside for a while and walk. I found out that the moving lines that camcorders pick up on computer monitors are actually there, because I saw them one time because of this. The original NES on an old t.v., using the RF cable, causes the worst that I used to experience as a kid. I used to bang my head on the wall extremely hard to take my mind off of the pain it caused. I tried playing one not long ago, and I kind of felt it coming, so I stopped. But the fact the binaural beats have caused me seizures, and a kind that I recognize from experience as being VERY SIMILAR to what I have had from energy drinks, tells me that it probably is not a placebo for productivity.I really think it is a subject that should be studied. Having epileptic volunteers may help point to evidence to support some of the claims.

  33. I've used binaural beats and frequencies since 2011 and I love them. They have changed my life for the better. Definitely what's worth a look are the chakra frequencies and the delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma frequencies. Of course, there are others but they are not widely talked about or even known – just like how there are gaps in the health healing frequencies created by Raymond rife and Edgar Cayce, amongst many other sound engineers, doctors, and scientists.These are real and they do help people.There is frequency in everything around us. If you build enough frequency, you get light. Thus, light can be a cure all as well.Then there are cymatics… the science of sound. Combined with these frequencies, cymatics can really help people on levels we've never imagined.I don't know why there is so little research in the field after thousands of people have worked on these tones through out the years to develop them.Sound has an effect on the body.Check out to get a technical detail and look at raymond rife's frequency list on google.Some of my favorites are anti-aging, cymatic healing protocols, and cure-alls.They were successful to calm many conditions I've had over the years and are worth talking about.

  34. Hi, I have only just found out about binaural beats. I usually find it difficult to remember the details of what I study even though I am thoroughly interested in the topic while reading it. I also tend to get distracted very easily. Which frequencies would be better for retention and recall?

  35. The discovery of brain entrainment and its subsequent evolvement during the 80s and 90s has taken made it possible to access the benefits of traditional meditation through an audible medium. All you need is headphones and a non-distracting environment for the duration of listening.

  36. I am unsure as to why people are equating sound waves with brainwaves. They are two distinct entities. There is no reliable evidence to suggest that listening to different frequencies in each ear changes your brainwaves.

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