Binaural beat technology in humans: a pilot study to assess psychologic and physiologic effects

J Altern Complement Med. 2007 Jan-Feb;13(1):25-32. doi: 10.1089/acm.2006.6196.


Introduction: Binaural beat technology (BBT) products are sold internationally as personal development and health improvement tools. Producers suggest benefit from regular listening to binaural beats including reduced stress and anxiety, and increased focus, concentration, motivation, confidence, and depth in meditation. Binaural beats are auditory brainstem responses that originate in the superior olivary nucleus as a result of different frequency auditory stimuli provided to each ear. Listeners to binaural beat "hear" a beat at a frequency equal to the difference between the frequencies of the applied tones.

Objectives: The objectives of this pilot study were to gather preliminary data on psychologic and physiologic effects of 60 days daily use of BBT for hypothesis generation and to assess compliance, feasibility, and safety for future studies.

Design: Uncontrolled pilot study.

Subjects: Eight healthy adults participated in the study.

Intervention: Participants listened to a CD with delta (0-4 Hz) binaural beat frequencies daily for 60 days.

Outcome measures: Psychologic and physiological data were collected before and after a 60-day intervention. PSYCHOLOGIC: Depression (Beck Depression Inventory-2), anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory), mood (Profile of Mood States), absorption (Tellegen Absorption Scale) and quality of Life (World Health Organization-Quality of Life Inventory). PHYSIOLOGICAL: Cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone, melatonin, insulin-like growth factor-1, serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, weight, blood pressure, high sensitivity C-reactive protein.

Results: There was a decrease in trait anxiety (p = 0.004), an increase in quality of life (p = 0.03), and a decrease in insulin-like growth factor-1 (p = 0.01) and dopamine (p = 0.02) observed between pre- and postintervention measurements.

Conclusions: Binaural beat technology may exhibit positive effect on self-reported psychologic measures, especially anxiety. Further research is warranted to explore the effects on anxiety using a larger, randomized and controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Depression / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Music Therapy / methods*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Concept
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome