Intracranial electroencephalography power and phase synchronization changes during monaural and binaural beat stimulation

Eur J Neurosci. 2015 Jan;41(2):254-63. doi: 10.1111/ejn.12760. Epub 2014 Oct 25.


Auditory stimulation with monaural or binaural auditory beats (i.e. sine waves with nearby frequencies presented either to both ears or to each ear separately) represents a non-invasive approach to influence electrical brain activity. It is still unclear exactly which brain sites are affected by beat stimulation. In particular, an impact of beat stimulation on mediotemporal brain areas could possibly provide new options for memory enhancement or seizure control. Therefore, we examined how electroencephalography (EEG) power and phase synchronization are modulated by auditory stimulation with beat frequencies corresponding to dominant EEG rhythms based on intracranial recordings in presurgical epilepsy patients. Monaural and binaural beat stimuli with beat frequencies of 5, 10, 40 and 80 Hz and non-superposed control signals were administered with low amplitudes (60 dB SPL) and for short durations (5 s). EEG power was intracranially recorded from mediotemporal, temporo-basal and temporo-lateral and surface sites. Evoked and total EEG power and phase synchronization during beat vs. control stimulation were compared by the use of Bonferroni-corrected non-parametric label-permutation tests. We found that power and phase synchronization were significantly modulated by beat stimulation not only at temporo-basal, temporo-lateral and surface sites, but also at mediotemporal sites. Generally, more significant decreases than increases were observed. The most prominent power increases were seen after stimulation with monaural 40-Hz beats. The most pronounced power and synchronization decreases resulted from stimulation with monaural 5-Hz and binaural 80-Hz beats. Our results suggest that beat stimulation offers a non-invasive approach for the modulation of intracranial EEG characteristics.

Keywords: auditory stimulation; human; intracranial electroencephalography; phase synchronization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Adult
  • Alpha Rhythm / physiology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Ear
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Gamma Rhythm / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Theta Rhythm / physiology