Drug abuse or substance abuse is no longer the only problem, although the form it has assumed is scary. The latest and apparently a more dangerous form is that of audio drugs or binaural beats. Binaural means relating to both ears. Conventionally used for holistic healing through music, binaural beats have, in the past, cured patients suffering from insomnia, depression, schizophrenia, hearing disabilities and even drug addiction.
However, these days binaural beats are being used to get a “high”.
HOW DO THEY WORK??
Our brain is a network of cells that constantly exchanges electrical and chemical signals. Brainwaves are the electrical activity created when hundreds of cells are fired at the same time in the same part of the brain and usually indicate the state of mind-tired, relaxed, depressed, etc. Brainwave patterns can be altered using various means one of them being Binaural beat frequencies.
The binaural beat frequencies are sounds that are at/or encoded with, a certain frequency. If a sound in one ear is combined with another sound in the other ear at lower frequency, then the brain can distinguish and hear the difference of the two frequencies. Two different noises are required to create the frequency because the human ear cannot hear low frequencies associated with brainwave patterns.
There are mainly four stages listed as below:
Delta(0.5Hz-4Hz)-state of deep sleep
Theta(4Hz-8Hz)-state of drowsiness(also first stage of sleep)
Alpha(8Hz-14Hz)- relaxed but alert
Beta(14Hz-30Hz)-highly alert and focused
When an external stimulus is applied to the brain, it becomes possible to entrain the brain frequency from one stage to another. For instance, if a person is in the Beta stage, and a stimulus of 10 Hz is applied, the brain frequency is likely to change towards applied stimulus, which in this case would give a relaxing effect to the person concerned. This phenomenon is also called frequency following response.
During various experiments conducted, it was observed that people experienced strong sensations and even hallucinations while listening to Binaural beats and thus these were compared to drugs like Meth, LSD, etc.
So now, the technology which was initially used to cure addiction and other ailments has become an addiction itself. Lots of sites on the Internet sell audio tracks/CD’s with Binaural beats and due to easy availability, are gaining immense popularity. The dangers when compared to other drugs, which are physically consumed, are more because it is harder to trace and more easily available. A definite bliss for those who want to escape reality; this new form of drug abuse is neither less threatening nor less harmful.
Awareness, proper education and counseling are few ways to fight the this newly-found demon and we can hope for a day when therapy just heals, medicine only cures and the cure no longer becomes the root of ailments.
[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevegarfield/161022842/]