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Listening to binaural beats stimulates cognitive performance

Dec. 22, 2023.
1 min. read 2 Interactions

"Binaural beat" sounds stimulate faster response times in language comprehension studentts

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Amara Angelica

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Amara Angelica is an audio engineer, musician, and DIY experimenter

Listening to binaural beats (credit: A. Angelica, DALL-E)

New research conducted at The University of Texas at Dallas investigates the impact of binaural beats (BB) on cognitive performance on language skills. BB is a sound that occurs from two tones (one in each ear) with slightly different frequencies.

There is a growing interest in using BB as a non-invasive neuromodulation to enhance cognitive performance, according to the researchers.

The experiment

Researchers in the Speech, Language and Music (SLAM) Lab at the Center for BrainHealth investigated how BB stimulation at beta and gamma frequencies effects people. The research was recently published in Cerebral Cortex

In the experiment, 60 participants’ electroencephalography (EEG) signals were recorded. Each participant was randomly assigned to one of three listening groups of differing frequencies (18-Hz beta BB, 40-Hz gamma BB, or pure-tone baseline) embedded in music, followed by a language comprehension task phase. 

18-Hz binaural beats showed best performance

Results showed that participants exposed to 18-Hz (beta-frequency) binaural beats had significantly higher accuracy and faster response times during the language comprehension task, particularly for complex sentences. They also had increased neural entrainment.

“This is the first neuroimaging study that elucidates the effect of BB on language processing at the neural level, said lead investigator Dr. Yune Lee, Assistant Professor at the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and Director of the Speech, Language, and Music (SLAM) Laboratory.

Higher accuracy and faster language response times

Minimal exposure to beta-frequency binaural beats resulted in significantly higher accuracy and faster language response times compared to control sounds. These results have implications for the potential use of BB in treating developmental language disorders.”

Citation: Kim, J., Kim, H., Kovar, J., & Lee, Y. S. Neural consequences of binaural beat stimulation on auditory sentence comprehension: An EEG study. Cerebral Cortex. https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhad459

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