A comparison of auditory evoked potentials to acoustic beats and to binaural beats

Hear Res. 2010 Apr;262(1-2):34-44. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2010.01.013. Epub 2010 Feb 1.


The purpose of this study was to compare cortical brain responses evoked by amplitude modulated acoustic beats of 3 and 6 Hz in tones of 250 and 1000 Hz with those evoked by their binaural beats counterparts in unmodulated tones to indicate whether the cortical processes involved differ. Event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded to 3- and 6-Hz acoustic and binaural beats in 2000 ms duration 250 and 1000 Hz tones presented with approximately 1 s intervals. Latency, amplitude and source current density estimates of ERP components to beats-evoked oscillations were determined and compared across beat types, beat frequencies and base (carrier) frequencies. All stimuli evoked tone-onset components followed by oscillations corresponding to the beat frequency, and a subsequent tone-offset complex. Beats-evoked oscillations were higher in amplitude in response to acoustic than to binaural beats, to 250 than to 1000 Hz base frequency and to 3 Hz than to 6 Hz beat frequency. Sources of the beats-evoked oscillations across all stimulus conditions located mostly to left temporal lobe areas. Differences between estimated sources of potentials to acoustic and binaural beats were not significant. The perceptions of binaural beats involve cortical activity that is not different than acoustic beats in distribution and in the effects of beat- and base frequency, indicating similar cortical processing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / classification*
  • Acoustics*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hearing / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Young Adult