Music on the Brain

One of the characters in the novel, CHOIR OF CLOISTERED CANARIES, was a prospective Alzheimer’s disease candidate. The clinical-residential center, however, adopted music therapy (binaural beat) for her treatment, in addition to other alternative modalities. [p. 76).]

“Future medicine

will be the medicine

of frequencies.”

Binaural beat therapy has been recognized in recent times as an emerging form of sound wave therapy, which helps balance and improve long-term memory among other benefits such as increased concentration, deeper meditation and enhanced psychomotor performance and mood. In reading the literature, there are those who claim that the therapy is semi-experimental, leaving one to wonder if the chemistry pharmaceutical-industry senses competition.

Nonetheless, it was Albert Einstein who posited that the “future medicine will be the medicine of frequencies.” The frequency of binaural beat therapy is amazing in that, when two tones of slightly different frequencies are played in separate ears simultaneously, the human brain perceives the creation of a third tone. This new third tone is equivalent to the difference between the two tones being played. If a person hears a tone of 405 Hz in one ear and a tone of 415 Hz in the other ear, that person would be hearing a beat with a frequency of 10 Hz.

Binaural beats provide the same benefits as meditation. While research is still ongoing, binaural beats still offers low risks of side effects if any. Many apps, podcasts, videos and other services provide free access to binaural beats offering a range of brain waves.

Beta waves at 13-16 Hz occur when we are awake and alert. Alpha waves at 8-12 Hz occur when we are relaxed with eyes closed as in meditation. Theta waves at 4-7 Hz occur in lighter stages of sleep or the transition from waking to sleeping. Theta waves at 0.5-4 Hz occur in a state of deep sleep. Then there is gamma wave to be discussed below.

A gamma wave (aka gamma Rhythm) is a pattern of neural oscillation in humans with a frequencey between 25 and 140 Hz, the 49-Hz point being of particular interest. Gamma wave activity is correlated with large scale brain network activity and cognitive phenomena such as working memory, attention, and perceptual grouping. It can be increased in amplitude by meditation or by neuro-stimulation. Altered gamma activity has been observed in many mood and cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and schizophrenia.

For a binaural beat to work, the two tones have to be less than 1000 Hz in frequency, and the difference between the two tones cannot be more than 30-40 Hz.

From a study by Aron and Yanker at the Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, they reported that “[t]reating neurodegenerative disorders by non-invasive modulation of neural networks is an intriguing prospect. The present study used light to stimulate gamma oscillations in the visual cortex, which is relatively unaffected by Alzheimer’s disease. It will be important to determine whether other approaches can stimulate gamma oscillations more globally, in brain regions that are affected in Alzheimer’s and other disorders. For example, behavioural interventions such as meditation have been shown to increase gamma oscillations. Electrical stimulation of deep brain regions — an effective approach in drug-resistant Parkinson’s disease — could potentially be adapted to stimulate gamma oscillations in specific brain regions. These are just two of many potential therapeutic approaches likely to arise from a greater understanding of the role of neural networks in neurodegenerative disorders. []

There is much to be advanced in this area. Research/Development needs to be budgeted now that there is a greater need to delay brain deterioration. Though estimates may vary, experts believe there more than six million Americans have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s. Moreover, recent estimates indicate that the disorder ranks third as a cause of death in older people, just behind heart disease and cancer.

The latest and past research conducted by NIH (U.S. National Institutes on Health can be found at

Below are some YouTube videos to inspire us.

Of course, Izobel’s favorite is–

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