Increasing evidence suggests that cognitive-control processes can be configured to optimize either persistence of information processing (by amplifying competition between decision-making alternatives and top-down biasing of this competition) or flexibility (by dampening competition and biasing). We investigated whether high-frequency binaural beats, an auditory illusion suspected to act as a cognitive enhancer, have an impact on cognitive-control configuration. We hypothesized that binaural beats in the gamma range bias the cognitive-control style toward flexibility, which in turn should increase the crosstalk between tasks in a dual-task paradigm. We replicated earlier findings that the reaction time in the first-performed task is sensitive to the compatibility between the responses in the first and the second task-an indication of crosstalk. As predicted, exposing participants to binaural beats in the gamma range increased this effect as compared to a control condition in which participants were exposed to a continuous tone of 340 Hz. These findings provide converging evidence that the cognitive-control style can be systematically biased by inducing particular internal states; that high-frequency binaural beats bias the control style toward more flexibility; and that different styles are implemented by changing the strength of local competition and top-down bias.
Keywords: Binaural beats; Dual-task; PRP; gamma.