Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Turn on, tune in, hit play

I thought I would throw in my $.02 on the whole binaural beat craze that swept through last week.

Binaural beats are being touted as a new way to 'get high'. Oooo.... scary. Keep the kids away from headphones!

The idea is that by presenting different, altering, oscillating white-noise-esque sounds to each ear, you kind of naturally drift your attention to the common periodicity between the two. Before you wave your hands and say "phooey!" this stuff is kinda interesting. There are two things to note. First, the attentional shift is interesting. Perhaps the repetition is discarded as inconsequential noise after a while. Second, like the vision, there is a desensitization that occurs after a while, and the proper 'beat' transitions are supposed to play off that and tonotopic organization of auditory areas (cortex, subcortical, cochlear, etc). This is the more interesting topic to think about, since sound localization also plays into the whole scheme as well.

I've played with binaural beats on and off since high school, mostly out of curiosity the first few times, and afterwards because they can induce a semi-hypnotic state and give me an excuse to stop thinking (plays into the whole sleep craziness I have).

Anyhow, try it. Worst case scenario is you waste 30 minutes.

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