A quantitative electroencephalographic study of meditation and binaural beat entrainment

J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Apr;17(4):351-5. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0691. Epub 2011 Apr 11.


Objectives: The study objective was to determine the quantitative electroencephalographic correlates of meditation, as well as the effects of hindering (15 Hz) and facilitative (7 Hz) binaural beats on the meditative process.

Design: The study was a mixed design, with experience of the subject as the primary between-subject measure and power of the six classic frequency bands (δ, θ, low α, high α, β, γ), neocortical lobe (frontal, temporal, parietal, occipital), hemisphere (left, right), and condition (meditation only, meditation with 7-Hz beats, meditation with 15-Hz beats) as the within-subject measures.

Location: The study was conducted at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.

Subjects: The subjects comprised novice (mean of 8 months experience) and experienced (mean of 18 years experience) meditators recruited from local meditation groups.

Intervention: Experimental manipulation included application of hindering and facilitative binaural beats to the meditative process.

Results: Experienced meditators displayed increased left temporal lobe δ power when the facilitative binaural beats were applied, whereas the effect was not observed for the novice subjects in this condition. When the hindering binaural beats were introduced, the novice subjects consistently displayed more γ power than the experienced subjects over the course of their meditation, relative to baseline.

Conclusions: Based on the results of this study, novice meditators were not able to maintain certain levels of θ power in the occipital regions when hindering binaural beats were presented, whereas when the facilitative binaural beats were presented, the experienced meditators displayed increased θ power in the left temporal lobe. These results suggest that the experienced meditators have developed techniques over the course of their meditation practice to counter hindering environmental stimuli, whereas the novice meditators have not yet developed those techniques.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods*
  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation* / psychology
  • Ontario
  • Psychophysiology*