The effect of gamma-enhancing binaural beats on the control of feature bindings

Exp Brain Res. 2017 Jul;235(7):2125-2131. doi: 10.1007/s00221-017-4957-9. Epub 2017 Apr 13.


Binaural beats represent the auditory experience of an oscillating sound that occurs when two sounds with neighboring frequencies are presented to one's left and right ear separately. Binaural beats have been shown to impact information processing via their putative role in increasing neural synchronization. Recent studies of feature-repetition effects demonstrated interactions between perceptual features and action-related features: repeating only some, but not all features of a perception-action episode hinders performance. These partial-repetition (or binding) costs point to the existence of temporary episodic bindings (event files) that are automatically retrieved by repeating at least one of their features. Given that neural synchronization in the gamma band has been associated with visual feature bindings, we investigated whether the impact of binaural beats extends to the top-down control of feature bindings. Healthy adults listened to gamma-frequency (40 Hz) binaural beats or to a constant tone of 340 Hz (control condition) for ten minutes before and during a feature-repetition task. While the size of visuomotor binding costs (indicating the binding of visual and action features) was unaffected by the binaural beats, the size of visual feature binding costs (which refer to the binding between the two visual features) was considerably smaller during gamma-frequency binaural beats exposure than during the control condition. Our results suggest that binaural beats enhance selectivity in updating episodic memory traces and further strengthen the hypothesis that neural activity in the gamma band is critically associated with the control of feature binding.

Keywords: Binaural beats; Event file; Feature bindings; Gamma-frequency; Neural synchronization.

Publication types

  • Retracted Publication

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Gamma Rhythm / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult