URLs and credit for material is given for each article mentioned or copied.
The Monroe Institute
62 Roberts Mountain Road
Faber, VA 22938-2317
FAX: (804) 361-1237
©1997 The Monroe Institute.
Hemi-Sync is a registered trademark of The Monroe Institute.
The six-day intensive Gateway Voyage program is a prerequisite for all other Institute resiential programs. This learning adventure provides participants with tools for:
development and exploration of human consciousness;
expansion of one's awareness;
freedom for individual choice and direction of the process;
communication with and visits to other energy systems.
You are introduced to:
Focus 10 -
the first stage in separation of mind-consciousness from physical reality. "Mind awake/body asleep" is a deeply relaxed state in which your awareness of physical sensory input is reduced. You discover your ability to experience beyond the limitations of the five physical senses. This gives birth to an awareness that you exist with or without the physical body;
Focus 12 -
a state of expanded awareness in which you can become more conscious of inner resources and guidance; a powerful and empowering state which readily lends itself to a wide diversity of applications;
Focus 15 -
a state of "no time" in which you explore beyond the constratints of time and place. Opportunities are abundant for establishing communication with larger aspects of self;
Focus 21 -
like deep (Delta) sleep, but with a significant difference. You are fully "awake" and conscious, directing the action, as you explore more deeply your personal self and the far reaches of other realities.
The Monroe Institute and its Gateway Voyage program are not set up to give you answers. In fact, it is our sincere hope that graduates of the Gateway Voyage program will go out with a new and ever-expanding array of questions .... and use the tools we provide to find your own answers.
We do not provide a new belief system at the Gateway Voyage. Individuals from all walks of life, professions, and a wide variety of religious backgrounds have attended without encountering conflict regarding their beliefs. The only philosophical point we ask you to consider as a serious possibility is that you are more than your physical body. However, there may be times when you are asked to look at different overviews. It will be your choice to evaluate and accept, reject, or remain undecided as to the validity of those perspectives.
The out-of-body state and tools that may be used to achieve this particular state of consciousness are covered in the Gateway Voyage, but that is only a small part of the program's overall scope of self-awareness and self- empowerment. Please note that we cannot guarantee a conscious out-of-body experience during, or subsequent to, a Gateway Voyage Program - but we do offer tools that can help you toward that end.
The Gateway Voyage program consists of progressive, audio-guidance exercises using the renowned and trademarked Hemi-Sync® process, application sessions, group discussions, and informal lectures, as well as free time for socialization and interaction with other participants.
The Gateway Affirmation from Far Journeys. . .
"Like most humans, we were possessed with the idea or hope that there had to be intelligent life somewhere among the billions of stars that we could perceive physically. So in our play we took to sending our Explorers out beyond the solar system at what appeared a near-instantaneous change of locale. The instruction was to keep going until he or she perceived something worthwhile. They passed by the other suns, found other planets, but no intelligent life. It seemed to us a sterile universe."
"The change came in 1974. It took place in all of our Explorers within several weeks. Some had never met one another, so there was no cross-communication. In looking back to examine the reason for this massive change, the only thing that we could find was: we had inserted the affirmation developed for the Gateway Program at the beginning of each experimental session in the lab. Other than that, we made no significant changes in Hemi-Sync frequencies, basic environment, or methods of presentation."
"It was suddenly as if a curtain had been lifted. Almost every time one of our Explorers went into the out-of-body state or simply into an advanced Focus 12, they encountered intelligent beings who were more or less willing to communicate -- and could do so. After several years of finding only barrenness, the effect upon us was overwhelming. We sometimes had difficulty knowing how to handle it."
Here is the affirmation:
I am more than my physical body. Because I am more than physical matter, I can perceive that which is greater than the Physical world. Therefore, I deeply desire to Expand, to Experience; to Know, to Understand; to Control, to Use such greater energies and energy systems as may be beneficial and constructive to me and to those who follow me. Also, I deeply desire the help and cooperation, the assistance, the understanding of those individuals whose wisdom, development and experience are equal or greater than my own. I ask their guidance and protection from any influence or any source that might provide me with less than my stated desires.
Peak and Other Exceptional Experiences During the Gateway Voyage
by Todd J. Masluk, MA, Ed.M.
A revolution is occurring in consciousness expansion, the development of altered states, and psychospiritual growth (Walsh & Vaughan, 1993). At the forefront of this movement is an array of "neurotechnologies." I These neurotechnologies are one of the newest hopes of promoting psychological growth. Many claims have been made regarding the efficacy of neurotechnological approaches to enhancing human performance and promoting exceptional positive well-being (Hutchison, 1994). Their potential to induce peak or similar kinds of experience is also suggested by some researchers (Isaacs, 1993; Wilson, 1991).
The MBTI was completed by 157 participants. The most frequently occurring type (40 participants) was "INFP" (Introverted Intuitive Feeling Perceiving).
The HBDI was completed by 156 participants. The most frequently occurring type (47 participants) was "2211". Primary characteristics of this type are the ability to be creative, holistic, and synthesizing in the right cerebral quadrant, and interpersonal, emotional, and spiritual in the right limbic quadrant. Secondary characteristics include logical, analytical, and mathematical thinking associated with the left cerebral quadrant, and organizational, planning, and structure with the left limbic quadrant. In common parlance, these people are more "right brained" than "left brained".
In addition to peak-experiences, a large variety of other "exceptional human experiences" were reported ii for which a provisional classification was developed. In Table 1, experiences were grouped by phenomenological content under four major categories: Intensified Sensory and Perceptual Experiences (Body) , Cognitive Experiences (Mind) , Psychodynamic Experiences (Emotions), and Transpersonal Experiences (Spirit). A fifth category, Miscellaneous Experiences , was added to accommodate those which did not logically fit any of the other four categories. More experiences were reported under the category of "Transpersonal Experiences" than for all other major categories combined. The sub-category containing the greatest number of reported experiences is Other Experiences of Consciousness Outside the Usual Experiential Realms of Time and Space . However, it is closely followed by Peak and Peak-Like Experiences and Inner Guidance or Channeling Experiences in descending order of frequency.
A variety of consistent aftereffects were reported: a greater commitment to one's psychospiritual growth; a sense of being more self-determined and responsible for one's life; a greater self-acceptance; living more fully in the present; a greater love for humanity; an increased willingness to take risks; an increased desire to help others; feeling more inner-directed (less willing to please others at the expense of self); an increased spontaneity; introspective (more willing to use inner guidance in decision-making). The overall effects pointed in the direction of increased self-actualization.
In addition, for many the effects also implied a newly-acquired sense of self-transcendence or realization that one is, indeed, more than one's physical body . This new, expanded sense of self included belief in the existence of other levels of reality; feeling inherently connected to something larger than self; belief in some form of benevolent "higher power"; and the loss of fear of death ( knowing there is life after death).
The data suggest that some kind of active cognitive engagement is necessary to integrate one's experiences. Some methods of engagement were preferred. Discussing the experience with others was the method most frequently cited. Many participants mentioned confining discussion to trustworthy, significant others, or to those who had undergone similar experiences. The next most frequently method was to read about similar experiences. This was followed--in order of frequency--by keeping the experience to oneself (many found the occurrence too sacred to share), and writing about it. These four processes were the predominant modes of synthesis. Other approaches included: pondering the experience; painting or drawing the experience; expressing it musically; reliving or replaying the experience in one's mind; meditating on the experience; trying to recreate it; listening for inner guidance.
Based on data collected from eleven groups, it appears that peak-experiences occur with regularity during the Gateway Program, as well as a wide range and multidimensionality of other trans-ordinary experiences. This great variety and depth of experiences suggest that Gateway helps to facilitate a huge opening or expansion of consciousness. This expansion seems to occur in both the outer and inner dimensions of being. Interestingly, the types, intensity, and richness of patterns of experience reported bear a striking resemblance to those reported by psychedelic (LSD) researchers (Grof, 1976; Masters & Houston, 1966; Pahnke & Richards, 1972). A useful metaphor to conceptualize the types of experience reported is that of turning up the volume on life . One becomes more physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually awake.
To the extent individuals are willing to acknowledge and consciously integrate such profound experiences, their lives may radically change in positive, growthful directions.
Major Categories and Frequencies of Reported Experiences
1.Intensified Sensory and Perceptual Experiences
A. Deautomatization Experiences
B. Somatic Awareness
A. Enhanced Mental Abilities
A. Regression to Early Childhood (and other life periods)
B. Resolution of Emotional Conflicts and Personality Integration
A. Extreme Psychological Well-Being Experiences
B. Peak and Peak-Like Experiences
C. Psychical Experiences
D. Inner Guidance or "Channeling" Experiences
E. Imagery of the Personal and Transpersonal Unconscious
F. Encounter Experiences
G. Other Experiences of Consciousness Outside the Usual Experiential Realms of Time and Space
A. Infrequent and Idiosyncratic Experiences
B. Uncodable Experiences
Grof, S. (1976). Realms of the human unconscious: Observations from LSD research. New York: E.P. Dutton.
Hutchison, M. (1994). Mega brain power. New York: Hyperion.
Isaacs, J. (1993). Psycho-technology: Its present and future. Megabrain Report, 2(1), 8-13, 29.
Masters, R.E.L., & Houston, J. (1966). The varieties of psychedelic experience. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Pahnke, W.N., & Richards, W.A. (1972). Implications of LSD and experimental mysticism. In
C.T. Tart (Ed.), Altered states of consciousness (pp. 409-439). New York: Doubleday.
Walsh, R., & Vaughan, F. (Eds.). (1993). Paths beyond ego: The transpersonal vision. Los Angeles, CA: Tarcher/Perigee.
Wilson, E.S. (1991). A psychophysiological study of the Hemi-Sync process. Hemi-Sync Journal, 9(4), 6-7.
© 1996 by The Monroe Institute >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The Effects of Hemi-Sync® on Electrocortical Activity: A Review of Three Empirical Studies
by M. R. Sadigh, PhD, Director of Psychology, The Gateway Institute and P. W. Kozicky, MD, Founder and Director, The Gateway Institute
Bilateral hemispheric synchronization is a phenomenon which has been attracting the attention of researchers and clinicians for sometime. It has been approximately thirty years since a number of studies showed that adept meditators tended to bring about a state of phasic hemispheric synchrony while in deep meditation (see Carrington, 1977).
Banquet (1973) suggested that during meditation a greater equalization of the functioning of the hemispheres tends to take place. This relative shift in hemispheric dominance (from left-brain dominance to whole-brain dominance) may result in therapeutic effects which are likely to enhance mind-body integration and overall improvements in physical and emotional health. Because of a reduction in cognitive activities during moments of whole brain synchrony, it is believed that negative thinking, self-punitive thoughts and excessive worrying are apt to slow down and consequently a reduction in cognitive anxiety is experienced (Carrington, 1977; Sadigh,1991; Schwartz, Davidson, & Goleman, 1978).
Delmonte (1984) suggested that creative intelligence requires the synthesis and collaboration of both the analytic and the spatial/intuitive halves of the brain. Again, it appears that this left-brain-right-brain synthesis can be achieved almost at will by adept meditators, especially those who practice TM.
Green and Green (1989) believed that long term biofeedback and relaxation training resulted in a harmonious relationship between the two hemispheres which facilitated control of the autonomic nervous system. This control can especially be helpful in the treatment of a variety of stress related and psychosomatic disorders. The authors also suggested that such states of bilateral synchrony may indeed bring about positive changes in psychophysical health as well as therapeutic alterations in underlying personality characteristics which may interfere with healthy growth and development.
Ornstein and Thompson (1984) criticized the Western emphasis on intelligence in terms of written or spoken word. They believed that perhaps the reason we have difficulties expanding our standards of education is because of this overemphasis on the potentials and abilities of the analytic/verbal brain.
Studies investigating whole-brain synthesis clearly suggest that human knowledge, intelligence, and well being may very well be achieved as the two brains begin to function as one--in unison and in synchrony. Table 1 summarizes some of the documented characteristics of the two hemispheres.
In Search of The Synchronized Brain
A few years ago, we had the opportunity of mapping the cortical activity of an adept meditator who had been regularly practicing and teaching TM for approximately fifteen years. The subject's EEG activity during baseline showed an asynchronous state throughout the cortex. The primary cortical activity was that of high-frequency Alpha activity combined with some Theta and Beta waves especially concentrated in the left temporal lobe. Once a stable baseline was achieved, the subject was asked to practice his mantra meditation. Shortly after this, the subject's cortical activity began to slow down and signs of phasic-bilateral synchrony became apparent. Within a matter of minutes the subject's primary cortical activity was that of low frequency Alpha across the cortex. This is consistent with similar observations reported in the literature (i.e. Banquet, 1973). After the subject stopped meditating, his cortical activity began to resemble that of the pre-meditation state.
This was actually the first time we witnessed a fully synchronized brain induced by meditation in our neuropsychological laboratory. The results and findings of this experiment were both exciting and sobering.
In months to follow, by using our computer-analyzed EEG unit, we began testing and experimenting with a variety of equipment, gadgets, tapes, special vibrational sounds, musical notes played on synthesizers, resonating bowls and gongs all of which claimed to entrain the brain into a synchronized, enhanced state. The results of our investigations were at best disappointing. Study after study, such devices and sounds failed to result even in a slight movement in the direction of hemispheric synchronization or enhancement of any brain-wave frequencies.
In the early months of 1989, we began studying the effects of a specialized audio technology, known as Hemi-Sync, which purported to bring about hemispheric synchronization by inducing a Frequency- Following Response within the brain (Monroe,1982). Unlike other modalities tested so far, Hemi-Sync was based on a sound and scientific method of brain entrainment. We designed three studies to measure and investigate the effects of the Hemi-Sync signal on electrocortical activities.
The history of electroencephalography, the measurement and study of the brain's electrical activity, dates back to the mid- to late nineteenth century when advances made in the science of electromagnetism began to be applied to human physiology. Richard Caton developed a technique for detecting the electrical activity from the exposed surfaces of the brains of living rabbits and monkeys. He demonstrated his findings at a meeting of the British Medical Association in 1875 and later published them in the British Medical Journal (Caton, 1875). He is credited with the discovery of the spontaneous EEG in animals and with demonstrating the ability to detect electrical brain responses to stimuli. In 1924 Hans Berger, a German psychiatrist, developed and applied electroencephalographic techniques for use with humans and in 1929 published his first paper on the subject (Empson, 1986).
Since Berger's discovery, the human EEG has provided information which has promoted a wide variety of discoveries about the brain. Functional roles of different areas of the brain have been discovered (Giannitrapani, 1985), development of the brain has become better understood (Surwillo, 1971), and correlations have been found between EEGs and behavior, personality factors and mental disorders (Saul, David, & Davis, 1949; Glaser, 1963; Robinson, 1974).
The normal human EEG has a frequency range from 0.5 Hertz (Hz) to 30 Hz which is usually subdivided into four or five bands: delta (0.5-3.5 Hz), theta (4-7 Hz), alpha (8-12 Hz), beta (13-28 Hz), and gamma (28+ Hz). Each of these bands has been correlated with specific behavioral states. Delta frequency waves are generally associated with deep sleep, theta waves with light sleep or dreaming, alpha waves with relaxed consciousness, and beta and gamma waves with active consciousness. Modern computerized EEGs can provide immediate feedback of the brain's electrical activity according to location, frequency, and amplitude. This information can be utilized to identify and possibly modify specific functional states of individuals. Also, this information, when compared with normative data, can be used to indicate deficiencies or specialties of function of an individual.
The Alpha Rhythm
Hans Berger is credited with the discovery of the human alpha rhythm in 1924 (Empson, 1986). Berger's first recognizable pattern in the human EEG was a relatively dominant, stable, synchronous wave form of about ten cycles per second which occurred primarily when the eyes were closed and during states of relaxation. Berger also noted that alpha was replaced by beta waves when the eyes were opened or when the individual was engaged in mental activity such as arithmetic calculations. For Berger, alpha waves represented a form of automatic functioning, a state of electrical readiness which exists when the subject is awake and conscious but inattentive. By 1934 (Adrian & Matthews, 1934) a consensus had been reached that alpha activity was related to relief from both visual activity and attention (Klinger, Greqoire, & Barta, 1973). The relationship of alpha to both the visual/oculomotor system and mental activity has been an important factor in alpha biofeedback research.
In most individuals there is a fairly consistent alpha frequency of around 10 cycles/second (Wieneke, Deinema, Spoelstra, Storm Van Leeuwen, & Versteeg, 1980). Although the alpha range is usually defined to be from 8-12 Hz, within this range the actual dominant alpha frequency varies between individuals (Schwibbe, Bruell, & Becker, 1981), within individuals across time according to differing conditions (Banquet, 1972, 1973), and within some individuals' brains at the same time (Inouye, Shinosaki, Yagasaki, & Shimizu, 1986). This variation of the alpha rhythm within and between individuals illustrates the complex and idiosyncratic nature of the phenomenon. Additionally, numerous variables have been correlated with the alpha rhythm in various ways.
Alpha and Arousal
Some researchers have attempted to relate alpha activity to physiological arousal. The alpha rhythm is most evident when the subject is awake, has closed eyes and is relatively relaxed, and tends to disappear or decrease when the subject engages in mental concentration or physical movement, or becomes tense, apprehensive or anxious. It has thus been described as occupying a mediating position on the continuum of nervous activation ranging from deep sleep to high emotional excitement as described by arousal theory (Malmo, 1959). Lindsley (1952) characterizes synchronized, optimal alpha rhythm as a state of relaxed wakefulness in which attention tends to wander, free association is enhanced, and behavioral efficiency of routine reactions and creative thought is good. Evans (1972) suggests that alpha is related to cognitive arousal and attention in a U-shaped manner in the sense that it disappears at either extreme of arousal and attention. Cade and Coxhead (1979) describe a two factor theory of arousal in which the alpha rhythm is indicative of relaxed cortical arousal. Other physiological measures such as skin resistance reflect peripheral or somatic arousal. In their model cortical and peripheral arousal interact but may vary independently.
Alpha and Hypnosis
A number of researchers have focused on the alpha rhythm as a possible physiological correlate of hypnosis. London, Hart, and Leibovitz (1968) found evidence that hypnotic susceptibility is positively correlated with higher levels of waking alpha production. However, other researchers attempting to replicate this finding have had both positive and negative results (Engstrom, London, & Hart, 1970; Evans, 1972; Galbraith, London, Leibobitz, Cooper, & Hart, 1970; Nowlis & Rhead, 1968; Ulett, Akpinar, & Itil, 1972).
Alpha and Meditation
In the late 1950's and early 1960's research into the EEG effects of meditation began to reveal that the alpha rhythm appears different during meditation and may undergo long-term changes in persistent meditators (Bagchi & Wenger, 1958; Kasamatsu & Hirai, 1969). Anand, Chhina, and Singh (1961) reported that the EEG of meditators showed a high amplitude slowed alpha rhythm which gradually spread from the occipital to the frontal areas. Banquet (1973) also found high amplitude alpha rhythms during meditation. Additionally, Banquet noted a second stage of meditation in which theta frequencies appeared and moved from frontal to posterior channels. A third stage, which Banquet observed in only the most experienced meditators, was characterized by high-frequency beta waves over the whole scalp. Banquet also noted that during meditation alpha blocking did not occur to low intensity light and sound stimulation. Empson (1986) summarizes the recent research on meditation and concludes that the experience of meditation "requires the constant maintenance of a fairly low level of arousal which allows the sort of dissociated, free-associative thinking that meditation entails" (p. 31). The low-frequency, high-amplitude alpha rhythms generally found during meditation thus seem to represent a voluntary lowering of arousal by the meditator.
These findings concerning the EEG activity of meditators sparked increased interest in the meanings of these rhythms and how to control them. Stewart (1974) observes that the interest in alpha brain wave biofeedback training appears to have originated from EEG monitoring of Zen and Yoga practitioners. The perceived link between meditation and alpha production influenced many to assume that increased alpha production would result in the ability to reap the benefits of meditation. This assumption has been a driving force behind the interest in alpha biofeedback training. However, over two decades of research into alpha biofeedback training indicates that this assumption is at best simplistic.
Alpha Biofeedback Training
Alpha biofeedback training was first introduced by Kamiya in 1962 (Kamiya, 1969) when he demonstrated that subjects who were required to guess whether or not alpha was present in their EEGs and were subsequently informed of their accuracy, could, within a few hours, correctly identify when they were producing alpha with high accuracy. He also found that those subjects who were successful in discrimination training could also produce or suppress alpha activity at will. He later successfully utilized auditory alpha-biofeedback devices which informed subjects of their alpha production through the presentation or absence of a tone generated by their alpha rhythms (Nowlis & Kamiya, 1970). The mental states which Kamiya's subjects associated with increased alpha production were reported to be feelings of relaxation, "letting go," and pleasant affect.
Brown (1970) studied alpha biofeedback in an eyes open condition and found that subjects were able to increase their alpha production with a visual feedback stimulus in the form of a small blue light which was activated by alpha production. She reported that successful alpha enhancement was correlated with subjective experiences of narrowing of awareness and pleasant feeling states. Other researchers have reported successful attempts to enhance alpha production with both visual and auditory feedback (Green, Green, and Walters, 1970; Honorton, Davidson, and Bindler, 1972; Inouye, Sumitsuji, & Matsumoto, 1980). Although Kamiya and Brown used the occipital regions to train alpha, successful alpha training has also occurred using central (Potolicchio, Zukerman, & Chernigovskaya, 1979), parietal and frontal regions (Nowlis & Wortz, 1973). There has also been success training interhemispheric synchronization of alpha (Mikuriya, 1979).
Since the advent of alpha biofeedback training, research in the area has revealed relationships between alpha production and such diverse topics as pain control (Pelletier & Peper, 1977) and extrasensory perception (Rao & Feola, 1979). Alpha production has also been correlated in various ways with creativity (Martindale & Hines, 1975), reaction time (Woodruff, 1975; Ancoli & Green, 1977), locus of control (Goesling, 1974; Johnson & Meyer, 1974), neuroticism (Travis, Kondo, & Knott, 1974b), and other personality variables (Degood & Valle, 1975).
Alpha Training and Contingent Feedback
One of the most fundamental principles of biofeedback is the necessity of accurate monitoring and feedback of the physiological process of interest in order for that process to be operantly controlled. It seems to be a comment on the complexity of the phenomenon of alpha biofeedback that after over twenty years of research there is still a lack of agreement among researchers that the increased alpha production observed in alpha biofeedback training paradigms is dependent upon the presence of accurate contingent feedback. While some researchers contend that alpha control is dependent upon true feedback (Kondo, Travis, Knott, & Bean, 1979; Pressner & Savitsky, 1977; Travis, Kondo, & Knott, 1974a), other researchers have found that alpha enhancement occurs under conditions of false feedback or no feedback and is thus less dependent upon accurate feedback than on other situational factors such as expectancy, instructions, or reinforcements other than the feedback (Brolund & Schallow, 1976; Holmes, Burish, & Frost, 1980; Lindholm & Lowry, 1978; Lynch, Paskewitz, & Orne, 1974; Prewett & Adams, 1976; Williams, 1977).
EEG Alpha and the "Alpha Experience"
According to the early research into alpha control, the successful enhancement of alpha was accompanied by "pleasant feeling states," "dissolving into the environment," altered perception of time, relaxation, "letting go," "letting mind wander," and visual inattentiveness (Brown, 1970; Nowlis & Kamiya, 1970). These observations led to the conclusion that enhanced alpha production resulted in an altered state of consciousness referred to as the "alpha state." However, further research into the subjective experiences which accompany alpha biofeedback training reveal that there are many other factors involved which influence these experiences. While some research indicates that the "alpha experience" requires both enhanced EEG alpha production and an "instructional set" (Walsh, 1974), other research indicates that the "alpha experience" does not necessarily accompany high or enhanced levels of EEG alpha (Plotkin, 1976, 1978; Plotkin & Cohen, 1976; Plotkin, Mazer, & Loewy, 1976), and may be relatively independent of alpha production (Plotkin, 1979). Enhanced alpha has been accompanied by elevated mood states as well as neutral or unpleasant mood changes (Bear, 1977; Cott, Pavloski, & Goldman, 1981; Travis, Kondo, & Knott, 1975). Marshall and Bentler (1976) contend that the level of physical relaxation is probably the determining factor in the experience of the "alpha state" rather than the amount of alpha production. This interpretation lends itself to a discrimination between cognitive and somatic relaxation. Although alpha production is related to both physical and mental arousal, it is neither a necessary consequence of nor a prerequisite to physical relaxation. Nor is it necessarily accompanied by pleasant affect. It is a multifaceted phenomenon which exists in a web of relationships with these and other variables.
Alpha and the Oculomotor System
As was mentioned earlier, Berger recognized that alpha production was somehow associated with both the visual system as well as mental effort. The further definition of these associations has been an ongoing theme since Berger's discovery. While Kamiya and Brown were further defining the links between alpha and subjective experiences of relaxation and pleasant affect, other researchers were further defining the links between alpha and the oculomotor system (Dewan, 1967; Mulholland & Evans, 1966).
The assumption that increased alpha control results in increased control over arousal breaks down when the link between alpha and the oculomotor system is not controlled for (Goodman, 1976). Brown (1974) relates an incident in which a colleague who had been practicing alpha biofeedback requested to have his EEG monitored in her lab to check his progress. They discovered that he had learned to control his alpha production by moving his eyes, not by producing it by itself. Even though he thought he had learned to control his alpha production by lowering his level of arousal, he had actually only learned to keep the alpha feedback tone on by unconsciously discovering and using another mechanism by which alpha may be controlled. The fact that the alpha rhythm is correlated with numerous cognitive and behavioral variables has spawned controversy over whether or not cognitive strategies are primary factors in alpha control or merely mediate oculomotor control of alpha (Hardt & Kamiya, 1976; Plotkin, 1976a; Plotkin, 1976b).
Alpha Control and Baseline Alpha
The intimate relationship between the oculomotor system and the alpha rhythm has revealed some design difficulties in alpha training procedures. It seems that success in increasing alpha density depends partially on whether or not eyes-open or eyes-closed baselines are used and upon the amount of light available during the training procedure. Paskewitz and Orne (1973) compared two groups of subjects who were trained with alpha feedback tones. One group was trained in total darkness and the other was trained in dim ambient light. The group trained in darkness demonstrated no increases in alpha densities while the group trained in dim ambient light demonstrated increases in alpha densities compared to eyes- open baseline levels. Neither group demonstrated increases in alpha when compared to eyes-closed baselines. They concluded that alpha training can lead to changes in alpha densities only when conditions have lowered alpha densities below the levels spontaneously seen under optimal conditions. They concluded, "Subjects can acquire volitional control over alpha activity only under conditions which normally lead to decreased densities. . . Alpha feedback training may enable a subject to overcome suppressing effects when they are present" (p. 363). They further state that the pleasant subjective experiences reported to be associated with alpha feedback training are likely consequences of the acquisition of skill in disregarding stimuli in the external and internal environments which would ordinarily inhibit alpha activity. Seen within this context, they describe an increase in alpha density as not an end in itself but an index of the subject's ability to disregard or remain unaffected by alpha blocking stimuli.
Other studies have indicated that the individual subject's baseline alpha amplitude and density is an important factor in obtaining increases in alpha through feedback training (Kondo, Travis, & Knott, 1973).
Alpha and Attention
Alpha is usually associated with mental states of nonattention, disappearing when the individual focuses attention on something either in the external or internal environments. Brown, however, (1974) reports that during visual alpha feedback training sessions her subjects demonstrated alpha during the periods when they were attending to the visual stimulus and produced desynchronized beta frequencies during the rest periods when they were not attending to the feedback light. The link between alpha production and attention is thus more complex. She noted that "the subjects who lost awareness of all environmental factors except the light . . . were those subjects with the highest levels of alpha production. Conversely, the subjects who remained aware of the environment . . . produced the smallest amounts of alpha" (Brown, 1974, p. 333). One interpretation of this seeming paradox is that the subjects entered a state of selective attention which did not require an alert, no-alpha EEG. Possibly, the subjects were attending to being nonattentive during the feedback trials and became less attentive to being nonattentive during the rest periods.
Alpha and Anxiety
There are indications that alpha production is related to anxiety (Nowak & Marczynski, 1981). However, the use of alpha-biofeedback training to reduce anxiety has met with mixed success. Hardt and Kamiya (1978) reported that with high trait anxiety subjects alpha training resulted in anxiety reduction in proportion to alpha increases and anxiety increases in proportion to alpha suppression. Watson, Herder, and Passini (1978) report long-term improvement in both state and trait anxiety with alcoholics who participated successfully in alpha training. Plotkin and Rice (1981), however, found that anxiety reduction was related more to perceived success in the feedback task than to actual changes in alpha production. They thus attribute the reductions in anxiety that occur during alpha feedback training to placebo effects.
In a study by Orne and Paskewitz (1974) subjects were given alpha feedback training and were told that their alpha production would determine whether or not they would receive electrical shock during periods signaled by a tone. Although the subjects indicated increased physiological and psychological arousal during times of jeopardy, as measured by increased heart rate, skin conductance responses, and reported subjective apprehension and anxiety, their alpha production was not affected. These results indicate that a reduction in alpha production is not a necessary consequence of increased anxiety or physiological arousal. However, the results do not necessitate the conclusion that increased alpha production does not reduce anxiety.
Therapeutic Applications of Alpha Training
Although there have been reports of unsuccessful attempts to utilize alpha biofeedback training therapeutically (Hord, Lubin, Tracy, Jensma, & Johnson, 1976; Leib, Tryon, & Stroebel, 1976; Mandelzys, Lane, & Marceau, 1981; Watson & Herder, 1980), positive results have been reported with several therapeutic applications. Goldberg, Greenwood, and Taintor (1976) reported that a decrease in illicit drug use accompanied learned control of alpha in four chemically addicted subjects. Peniston and Kulkosky (1989) utilized alpha-theta brain-wave training with alcoholics and reported long-term improvement in depression scores and sustained prevention of relapse. Alpha training paradigms have been successful in reducing seizures and abnormal brain rhythms in epileptics (Johnson & Meyer, 1974a; Rouse, Peterson, & Shapiro, 1975; Sterman, 1973). Success has been noted in the treatment of migraine headaches (Andreychuk & Skriver, 1975; Cohen, McArthur, & Rickles, 1980), although alpha training was not found to be superior to other biofeedback strategies. The control of pain has been found to be related to alpha production in meditators (Pelletier & Peper, 1977) and alpha-biofeedback strategies have been found to facilitate control of chronic pain in conjunction with hypnotic suggestion (Melzack & Perry, 1975) and stress inoculation training (Hartman & Ainsworth, 1980). Mills and Solyom (1974) used alpha training successfully with five ruminating obsessives and found that virtually no ruminations occurred during alpha, indicating possibilities for further research and application of alpha training in this area. Alpha suppression training has been successful improving performance on an arithmetic task with mentally retarded subjects (Jackson & Eberly, 1982), and improving attention and reading skills (Ludlam, 1981).
Binaural Beats and the Frequency-Following Response
As has already been seen, the alpha rhythm is influenced by many factors, both internal and external. Environmental factors such as photic and auditory stimulation have been found to influence alpha production in various ways. Flickering lights can entrain the electrical rhythms of the brain through the frequency- following response. A more subtle example of the frequency-following response occurs through binaural beats, an auditory brainstem response.
Research clearly indicates the possibility of entraining specific frequencies of brain waves by presenting subjects with frequency-specific flickering lights (Arinibar & Pfurtscheller, 1978; Nogawa, Katayama, Tabata, Ohshio, & Kawahara, 1976; Regan, 1966; Williams & West, 1975; Yaguchi & Iwahara, 1976). For example, alpha-frequency brain waves may be entrained by exposing subjects to a light stimulus flickering at a rate within the alpha frequency range. The tendency for the electrical rhythms of the brain to become entrained to frequencies of sensory stimuli in the environment is called the frequency-following response (Moushegian, Rupert, & Stillman, 1978; Sohmer, Pratt, & Kinarti, 1977; Stillman, Crow, & Moushegian, 1978).
Research also indicates that auditory stimuli can be used to entrain the electrical rhythms of the brain (Neher, 1961; Picton, Woods, & Proulx, 1978a; Picton, Woods, & Proulx, 1978b). Auditory entrainment of cortical rhythms can occur through two different routes. One may achieve entrainment through bursts of sounds such as through drum beats, or one may achieve entrainment through the less direct and more subtle route of binaural beats.
The range of the electrical rhythms of the human cortex is 0 Hz to about 40 Hz. Since humans have an auditory range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, it is not possible to directly entrain cortical rhythms below 20 Hz with pure tones. However, the phenomenon of binaural beats, an auditory brainstem response, allows the entrainment of frequencies below 30 Hz through the interaction of pure tones within the superior olivary nuclei.
In 1839 H. W. Dove, a German experimenter, discovered the auditory effect of binaural beats (Oster, 1973). He found that when two different frequencies of sound were presented, one to each ear, a third frequency equal to the difference between the two frequencies was experienced. This third, binaural beat is actually the result of the interaction of the two primary tones within the auditory brainstem. For example, if a pure tone with a frequency of 400 Hz is presented to one ear and a second tone of 410 Hz is presented to the other ear, a third binaural beat with a frequency of 10 Hz will also be heard as a result of the interaction of the two frequencies. Binaural beats can be generated at frequencies below 40 Hz and may be used to entrain electrical rhythms of the brain to vibrate at the same frequency through the frequency-following response (Dobie & Norton, 1980; Gerken, Moushegian, Stillman, & Rupert, 1975; Moushegian, Rupert, & Stillman, 1978; Smith, Marsh, & Brown, 1975; Smith, Marsh, Greenberg, & Brown, 1978; Sohmer, Pratt, & Kinarti, 1977; Stillman, Crow, & Moushegian, 1978; Yamada, Yamane, & Kodera, 1977). Mediating processes through which the auditory brainstem binaural beat may entrain the cortex are likely to include attentional and motivational factors. Binaural-beat techniques are reportedly being used to successfully entrain specific brain-wave frequencies for specific purposes (Atwater, 1988). Preliminary reports indicate that the techniques may lend themselves to therapeutic applications. The combination of binaural beats and brain wave biofeedback may also prove therapeutically useful in the future.
What Are Binaural-Beat Audio Signals?
Binaural-beat audio signals are a specific audio entrainment technique for altering a subject's brain waves. Alteration of a subject's brain wave frequency or amplitude produces changes in the subject's performance level on some cognitive tasks (Hutchinson, 1994). Brain-wave training is the utilization of brain-wave altering equipment (usually biofeedback equipment) to produce durable changes in a subject's brain waves (Peniston, & Kulkosky 1989).
Brain-wave training has been found to yield excellent results in the facilitation of human memory, attention span, and relaxation (Hutchinson, 1994). Furthermore, this research has been demonstrating brain-wave training as an effective intervention in impaired levels of functioning due to ADHD, learning disabilities (LD), physical brain trauma, and psychological trauma (Ochs, 1993).
As a specific technique of brain-wave training, BBS's have not been empirically studied to produce statistically significant data on how comparable they are to other forms of brain-wave training. Such results would lay a more solid groundwork for clinicians and clinician researchers who are using, or interested in using, binaural-beat brain-wave training.
It is hoped that this study will be one of the first bricks in the laying of a solid research foundation for support of clinicians and organizations interested in applied research and application of binaural-beat brain-wave training.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
There has been a quiet revolution occurring in the study of human cognitive functioning and its associated brain wave activity. Breakthroughs have been occurring whose application may rival the introduction of drug therapies to psychiatry. This new wave of therapies involves non-drug interventions capable of rapidly healing previously resistant pathologies and improving cognitive performance in normal subjects.
These new interventions have arisen out of ongoing research in Electroencephalographic (EEG) feedback. In the sixties, EEG feedback was used primarily to control stress. However the interest of serious researchers waned as EEG biofeedback was embraced in the popular culture as a cure all and was tainted with a somewhat disreputable air by association with the human potential movement. Clinical interest in biofeedback returned with the decline of popular attention to biofeedback and the publication of controlled studies showing the effectiveness of biofeedback in chemical and psychometric tests with up to three years of follow-up (Ochs, 1993).
As new generations of EEG equipment became available, researchers developed an expanding understanding of brain wave patterns. Associations were found between specific patterns of brain wave activity and pathological, normal, and optimal cognitive performance/states.
Utilizing this information, biofeedback researchers have been training subjects who have frequency patterns associated with various disorders to alter their brain wave patterns to match those associated with normally functioning individuals (Hutchinson, 1994). This technique has been found to be a rapid and effective intervention for many severe and resistant pathologies including, "depression, sleep disorders, seizures, chronic fatigue, headaches, mood swings, anxiety" (Hutchison, 1994, p. 361), alcoholism, (Peniston, & Kulkosky, 1989), addiction, attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), epilepsy, post-traumatic stress, paralysis and cognitive impairment as a result of a stroke or head injury (Ochs,1993).
On the Million Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI) brain-wave training (BWT) resulted in significant decreases on the "scales labeled schizoid, avoidant, passive-aggressive, schizotypal, borderline, paranoid, anxiety, somatoform, dysthymia, alcohol abuse, psychotic thinking, psychotic depression, and psychotic delusion" when used with vietnam veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress (Peniston, & Kulkosky, 1990, p. 37).
Possible Mechanisms Underlying Brain-wave Training
Triggering of Neurotransmitters
Why should helping individuals retrain their brain wave frequency patterns be so helpful? A suggestion might be found in the work of Patterson and Capel (1983) in Surrey, England. They found that different neurotransmitters were triggered by different frequencies and wave forms. For example, a 10-hertz signal boosts production and turnover rate of serotonin. "Each brain center generates impulses at a specific frequency, based on the predominant neurotransmitters it secretes," says Dr. Capel. "In other words, the brain's internal communications system--its language, if you like--is based on frequency..." (Ostrander & Schroeder, 1991, p. 264).
The implications of Capel's & Patterson's work is that one can alter the brain's neurochemistry, and thereby it's functioning, with modifications of brain wave frequency.
The popular drug Prozac alleviates depression by increasing serotonin levels. The serotonin levels are elevated through the selective chemical inhibition of the brain's serotonin-reuptake enzymes (Kramer, 1993). The positive effect of Prozac on a depressed subject's mood and social functioning can be profound, effects which are generated by elevating the subject's serotonin levels.
According to Patterson and Capel, a similar increase in the level of serotonin in the brain could be achieved through the induction of a 10-hertz signal. Could we alleviate depression and other impairments associated with low serotonin levels as effectively with brain wave training as with Prozac? What about other forms of impaired mental functioning for which we have no effective chemical interventions? According to many researchers we can, and the triggering of the release of beneficial neurotransmitters may be why.
Return of the Brain to Pre-Trauma Neurochemical State
The direct release of desirable neurotransmitters through an increase in amplitude of specific brain wave frequencies might not be the only mode of action for brain-wave training. A somewhat related theory of why helping subjects retrain their EEG patterns could be helpful is postulated by Len Ochs, a California therapist and researcher. Dr. Ochs speculates that the neurochemical response to trauma may become entrained as a permanent state, limiting normal functioning, and that brain-wave training may allow a return to the pre-trauma neurochemical state.
Dr. Ochs postulates that psychological or physical trauma induces such a high level of neurochemical excitement that a seizure may be imminent. In order to protect itself, the brain responds with inhibitory chemicals. One could visualize it as the neurochemical equivalent of curling up in a ball. In a protective stance, the inhibited brain has lost function, just as person curled up in a ball cannot walk or function normally in their protective posture.
Dr. Ochs postulates that these inhibitory chemicals may linger in the brain for an extended period of time (one supposes for lack of activation of the proper janitorial reuptake enzymes) or, that the brain mechanism responsible for the production of the seizure protecting neurotransmiters does not reset itself to the pre-trauma state, creating a new homeostatic state of impaired functioning.
If brain-wave training resets the neurochemistry to its pre-trauma state, such a mechanism would explain why it is helpful, and why it works with pathologies resistant to other interventions.
EEG Disentrainment Feedback
Dr. Ochs created an EEG biofeedback device which operates directly on the subjects EEG patterns through light and sound drivers. Normally in EEG biofeedback a subject must attend to, and attempt to respond to a signal which provides information about their brain wave frequencies.
Unlike traditional EEG biofeedback, in Dr. Ochs' device there is no need for the subject to be consciously in the loop or attempting to do anything. The overall brain waves respond to and match the frequency and amplitude of the signals delivered via strobe glasses and headphones. The audio and visual stimuli in turn are generated by the overall amplitude and frequency of the EEG. A computer monitors both and allows the clinician to intervene and sweep the frequencies upward or downward.
Dr. Ochs calls his form of biofeedback "EEG disentrainment feedback (E.D.F.)" (Ochs, 1993). The equipment is actually entraining the brainwave frequencies, yet he refers to it as disentrainment feedback. The disentrainment is for the hypothesized intervention of disentraining a protection mechanism gone awry, a locked in state of emergency brain functioning.
Ochs has been having remarkable results with victims of both psychological trauma and physical brain trauma. He has successfully treated victims of closed head injury, stroke, post-traumatic stress, depression, and addiction. Many of these patients had conditions which were very resistant to treatment with other interventions.
If Dr. Ochs hypothesis is true, then the EDF and all other brain wave retraining devices either activate the proper inhibitory enzyme reuptake mechanism, or they disrupt the seizure inhibition responses which have taken over as the day to day standard for neurochemical functioning.
In either case, brain-wave training would be helping because it allows the brain to reset itself to its normal unimpaired state of functioning. The brain-wave training would not be directly repairing what is impaired, but would be enabling the brain to heal itself (Ochs,1993).
The observations and speculations of Ochs, Patterson and Capel provide some insight into why such "physical therapy" for the brain may work. They illustrate why we might be as effective using brain wave training to improve some individual elements of functioning, such as memory, as well as working on broad fields of impaired functioning such as depression, head injury, addiction, ADHD, ect..
The Peniston Protocol
Perhaps the most famous research to date using EEG biofeedback training has been the work of Peniston and Kulkosky for their procedure, the Penniston protocol. Peniston and Kulkosky used alpha-theta brain-wave training to increase the amount and amplitude of the subjects alpha and theta brain waves.
Dr. Eugene Peniston and Dr. Paul Kulkosky randomly assigned alcoholics to a control group which received conventional medical treatment (Minnesota Model (12 Step)), and an experimental group for which the only interventions were fifteen twenty minute sessions of Alpha-Theta brain wave training. They also included in the study a second control group of non-alcoholics. The results sent a shockwave through every segment of the alcohol treatment community aware of the study (Hutchison, 1994).
The control group, who received traditional medical treatment, demonstrated an 80 percent relapse rate during the thirteen month post treatment follow-up period. The experimental group, who received 15 twenty minute brain- wave training (BWT) sessions (and no other treatment) demonstrated only a 20 percent relapse rate during the same follow-up period. "Depression, as indexed by Becks's Depression Inventory, was significantly reduced to control (nonalcoholic) level after BWT" (Peniston, & Kulkosky, 1989, p. 276). The alcoholic control group did not demonstrate any significant change in depression as measured by Beck's Depression Inventory.
Lack of Success with Standard Medical Treatment
Only a twenty percent success rate with traditional intervention techniques in the Peniston & Kulkosky study is not an unusual finding on the effectiveness of currently available alcohol treatment.
At the Washington University Department of Psychiatry, John Helzer and colleagues concluded in their study that "Less than 10 percent of those treated specifically for alcoholism survived and were not drinking alcoholically five to eight years after receiving treatment" (Peele, 1989, p. 78).
In a study of the Minnesota Model at Cambridge following up 100 patients across eight years, researchers concluded "there is compelling evidence that the results of our treatment were no better than the natural history of the disease" (Peele, 1989, p. 74).
Peniston and Kulkosky also note that "major outcome studies that have used specific therapeutic interventions such as controlled drinking, abstinence, compulsory AA attendance, and an active follow-up program yielded results after 2 and 8 years that were no better than those of the natural history of the disorder" (Peniston, & Kulkosky, 1989, p. 271).
Advantage of Brain-wave training Over Standard Medical Treatment
If alcoholism does involve impaired brain function, then the above statistics and results would not be surprising. The subjects who received the traditional medical treatment are fighting against there own physiology, whereas those who are receiving the alpha-theta brain-wave training are not.
Beta-endorphine has been linked to internal control mechanisms for eating and ethanol consumption (Peniston, & Kulkosky, 1989). Based upon an existing literature, Peniston and Kulkosky observe, "If Beta-endorphin is elevated in alcoholics, a return to consumption of ethanol calories would be inevitable" (Peniston, & Kulkosky, 1989, p. 276).
Peniston and Kulkosky did find significantly elevated levels of beta-endorphine in the group who received traditional medical treatment. They did not find elevated levels of beta-endorphine in the group who received the brain-wave training.
Just as a painter with no arms must struggle to overcome the limitations of his physiology to pursue what he wants to do, so might an alcoholic need to struggle against his physiology to pursue his own choices for his life. Within the traditional model of treatment, a basic physiological impediment is not being addressed. According to the findings of Peniston & Kulkosky, that basic physiological impediment is being addressed with brain-wave training; a physiological impediment addressed not with drug therapy, but with a non-invasive technique which allows elevated brain chemistry to return to normal values. This is a technique which in essence allows the brain to heal itself.
The implications of the Penniston protocol are not just for the alcoholic, but also for any victim of the class of impaired brain functioning Dr. Ochs discusses. Under his model anyone with impaired neurochemistry (such as elevated beta-endorphine) would receive the same benefit of normalized brain chemistry after the brain-wave training.
EEG Beta Brain-wave training
While the Peniston protocol focuses on Alpha and Theta brain-wave training, other researchers have been looking into the benefits of using brain-wave training for beta frequencies. Beta training is another brain-wave training technique which trains the subjects to increase the amplitude and frequency of their mid-range beta frequencies. Beta training has been found to be an effective tool for treating ADHD and dyslexia (Hutchison, 1994, p. 360) and would seem to be significant particularly in the area of education.
In a controlled study, (Dr. Siegried) Othmer has found that this beta training produces average IQ increases of 23 percent. In cases where the starting IQ value was lower than 100, the average IQ increase was 33 points. Othmer has also found dramatic improvements in visual retention and auditory memory, and the subjects showed major gains in reading and arithmetic. In a one-year follow-up study, the trainees showed major improvements in self-esteem and concentration and significant improvements in such areas as handwriting, school grades, sleep, irritability, organization, hyperactivity, verbal expression, and headaches...Amazingly the improvements seem to be permanent. (Hutchison, 1994, p. 360-361).
These results warrant further research and beckon for educational application. How many special education classes and special education students could benefit from significant improvements in levels of hyperactivity, irritability, organization, and self-esteem? How many mainstream classes and students would appreciate and benefit from increased auditory memory and visual retention, IQ gains of 23 percent and improvements in verbal expression, reading and arithmetic? Pursuit of beta brain-wave training is clearly warranted for its potential to help students and teachers alike in achieving the goals of quality education.
Barriers of Cost to EEG Brianwave Training
As a tool to facilitate education, Beta training would seem to hold the same promise as alpha-theta training does for alcoholism. Indeed considering the proliferation of destructive drug use among current student populations, alpha-theta training might also be of significant interest in an educational setting. Unfortunately, in an educational environment financial resources limit making available EEG biofeedback brain-wave training to those who could benefit from it.
A major limitation in the application of EEG biofeedback training has been the cost of the equipment and the limited context under which it can be used. It is hard to imagine a classroom where all twenty students are seated with electrodes on their heads and a biofeedback therapist attending to each of them. Even as a lab where the students may go for one period a day, the cost would be prohibitive. The EEG biofeedback equipment can cost between $4,000 and $20,000 (Hutchison, 1994) per machine. Furthermore, EEG biofeedback requires the one on one attention of highly trained personnel. Cost for the therapists and equipment precludes EEG biofeedback training from practical use for most educational settings.
Alternatives to EEG Biofeedback Training
Fortunately, EEG biofeedback training is not the only way to accomplish the EEG training. Audio and visual driving of brain wave frequencies without a feedback loop has been found to be an effective method of performing the same brain-wave training. Currently available to the public for prices ranging from $99 to $350 (Tools for Exploration Vol. V, No. 2 Summer/Fall 1994), are Light and Sound (LS) machines.
These devices use audio and photic driving to alter the users brain waves to the desired frequency and amplitude patterns. Dr. Ochs EEG biofeedback device uses an LS machine as the part of the equipment which drives the alterations in brain-wave frequencies. His device becomes a form of EEG BWT because of the feedback loop through the computer and EEG machine.
An LS machine consist of set of headphones, blackout glasses with small lights placed over each eye, and a small computer. The computer controls the strobe frequency of the lights, matching them with the frequency of auditory monaural and binaural beats. The LS machines are not only cheaper to purchase than EEG BWT training equipment, but are also cheaper to operate. Unlike EEG biofeedback BWT training they do not require the one on one attention of highly trained personnel (Hutchison, 1994).
Comparable Results with Light and Sound Brain-wave Training and EEG Brain-wave Training
Russell, and Carter, have been using LS brain-wave training with learning disabled (LD), and ADHD children for beta brain-wave training (Russell & Carter, 1990). The purpose of the LS beta training is to increase the amplitude and frequency of beta brain wave activity in the frontal lobes. ADHD has been found to be "linked to abnormally slow brain-wave activity in specific parts of the brain, including the premotor cortex and the superior prefrontal cortex, which are used when people pay attention, or keep still" (Hutchison, 1994, p. 358).
A significant difference in the verbal and performance subtests of the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children is a diagnostic indicator of possible organicity, ADHD or learning disability (Aiken, 1988). What Dr. Russell and Dr. Howard noted in their LD or ADHD subjects was that whichever subtest was suppressed in the pre-test was significantly raised in the post-test (after the Beta training).
Groups that began with low verbal IQ scores had pronounced gains in verbal IQ, spelling, and arithmetic. Groups that began with high verbal but low performance IQ showed significant gains in non-verbal IQ, reading, spelling and memory...they concluded that the degree of significant improvement in functioning is related to the number of treatment sessions. (Hutchison, 1994, p. 362)
It can be seen that this intervention is normalizing the spread of the WISC subtest scores and apparently following Dr. Ochs hypothesis. The brain-wave training is permitting an individual with impaired functioning to be normalized and enter a state of unimpaired functioning on measures normally associated with organicity.
Russell and Carter suggest that use of LS devices and EEG training "may stimulate either the successful establishing of new neural pathways in the brain or re- establishing of old pathways that have been disrupted" (Hutchison, 1994, p. 363).
The re-establishment of old disrupted neural pathways sounds in essence the same as the primary mode of action for brain wave training hypothesized by Ochs. But if beta, and perhaps all brain-wave training, is doing more than just re-establishing old pathways (if it is actually creating new neural pathways as Russell and Carter suggest) then might it also be of value to expand normal mental capacities?
In the study of ADHD children conducted by Russell and Carter, significant increases in IQ scores were noted as the result of beta training raising the depressed subtest on the WISC. Othmer also found in his beta training biofeedback that ADHD subjects IQ scores rose significantly. These were both populations with impaired functioning whose rise in IQ scores can be viewed as the probable result of gaining an unimpaired level of functioning where before there had been an impaired level of functioning.
But if beta, and perhaps all brain wave training, is actually creating new neural pathways as a secondary mode of action, and if, as a tertiary mode of action, is stimulating the production of beneficial neurotransmitters as suggested by the work of Dr. Meg Patterson and Dr. Ifor Capel, then it would be reasonable to assume that brain-wave training might actually increase the level of functioning of an unimpaired subject.
Cranial Electrical Stimulation
Research suggestive of just such a hypothesis may be found in the investigation of cranial electrical stimulation (CES). CES is a technique which introduces the desirable frequencies by low level electrical currents applied to the cranium. The medical college at the University of Wisconsin conducted a study on a commercially available CES device, the BT-5. The purpose of the study was to determine if the BT-5 would reduce student anxiety during final exams. The unexpected results were increases in IQ by twenty to thirty points and a conclusion by the researchers that the "BT-5 (CES) stimulation appears to enhance neural efficiency..." (Ostrander & Schroeder, 1991, pp. 265-266).
As with the other forms of brain wave training, CES has a history of research showing significant improvements in individuals with an impaired level of functioning. Like the Peniston protocol, CES brain wave training has had profound beneficial effects on the impaired mental and social functioning of alcoholics and addicts. CES has enabled some addicts and alcoholics to go cold turkey without any withdrawal symptoms, apparently through the stimulation of the production of beneficial endorphins (Ostrander & Schroeder, 1991). CES brain wave training has been found to be effective in the treatment of impaired short term memory in alcoholics. With severe alcoholism, it can take as long as eight years of total abstinence before short term memory returns to its unimpaired level of functioning. With CES brain wave training, it can take as little as five days (Ostrander & Schroeder, 1991).
If neural efficiency is increased, if new neural pathways can be created and if an impaired state of homeostatic functioning can be reset to a fully functional one, then all of these technologies and interventions represent a staggering opportunity to improve the opportunities and quality of life for broad populations of individuals through brain-wave training.
The results that Russell and Carter have obtained with a form of beta brain-wave training which does not involve EEG biofeedback is apparently of the same calibre as Othmer has received with beta brain-wave training involving EEG biofeedback. The demonstrated effectiveness of both approaches validates that one does not need the EEG feedback loop for the brain-wave training to be effective.
This demonstration of comparable results means that the significant potential of brain-wave training does not have to be limited by the fiscal constraints of EEG biofeedback brain-wave training. Despite the lowered cost of the LS brain-wave training devices verses the EEG biofeedback equipment, the LS machines are expensive enough that in an educational setting access may be a significant problem.
There is one other more cost effective method of conducting brain-wave training: binaural- beat audio signals. In the LS machines, the brain waves are altered through the use of light and sound drivers. In binaural-beat audio signal brain-wave training, only sound driving is used to alter brain waves.
Binaural-beat audio signals are the final technology we will discuss and the technology under investigation in this study.
Binaural-Beat Audio Signals
Binaural-beat signals utilize a powerful form of audio driving to alter brain- wave frequencies. In specific forms of intervention, frequencies could be presented to individuals for brain-ave training in essentially the same manner as LS brain wave training.
Binaural-beats signals (BBS's) were first observed by the German scientist H.W. Dove in 1839. In its simplest form BBS's consist of two pure tones of different pitch being presented to each ear. Before the advent of electronic occilators, researchers used tuning forks to produce the tones. Heard in the open air (monaural beats), the sound will wax and wane due to wave interference. A subject can hear these monaural beats with just one ear if need be. Binaural beats occur when the tones are presented separately to each ear. The sound no longer waxes and wanes in the room, but is heard inside the subject's head as a tone synthesized by the brain which does not exist outside of the subject's head (Oster, 1973).
The brain synthesizes the two sounds into a single experienced tone which seems to originate from the center of the subjects head. The synthesizing of the two tones into one experienced tone produces a phenomena known as hemispheric synchronization, where the electrical activity of the two hemispheres of the brain unite into a single synchronous pattern with an overall frequency at the frequency of the difference between the two original tones. If the difference between the two tones matches a particular brain wave state, such as 4-8 Hz (Theta), then the overall brain activity will tend to match that frequency, and hence enter that brain wave state. This phenomena is referred to as the Frequency-Following Response (FFR) and is a powerful form of brai-wnave entrainment (Edrington, & Allen, 1985). The FFR can easily take a subject into Beta, Alpha, Theta, or Delta brain wave states and help them maintain those states.
By using only audio stimulation for brain wave training, the financial access to the benefits of brain-wave training is improved. Equipment is reduced to a simple tape and personal stereo tape player. In the classroom, access is improved by use of open air speakers which prevents the subjects from having to wear any equipment at all and thus does not interfere with the normal structure of a class (Edrington, 1985). But are BBS's as effective as other means of brain-wave training? In an educational setting, if one did want to facilitate memory and learning, how effective would BBS's be?
Existing research has shown that teachers who have used BBS's in their classrooms have reported a decrease in student distractibility and an increase in academic performance (Owens, 1984). A study conducted with an introductory psychology class found significantly higher scores in the experimental group on five out of six tests (Edrington 1983). A study conducted at a government training center found an increase in scores by 30% for Morse code students (Waldkoetter, 1982a) and 75% on mental-motor skills (Waldkoetter, 1982b) using BBS's in addition to standard teaching procedures. The US Army has also reported positive results in using BBS's, in this case to improve acquisition of a second language (Pawelek, & Larson). Such findings would seem to indicate that in these settings the BBS's are an effective and worthwhile intervention for improving a student's educational level functioning.
Variables in This Study
The Independent variable was the presence of BBS's on the instrumental music tape the experimental group listens to; and the absence of the BBS's on the same instrumental music tape heard by the control group.
Four dependent variables were used to obtain more data on the types of memory facilitated by BBS's. These dependent variables were tests administered to 50 undergraduate students of West Georgia College. The students were randomly assigned with a double-blind methodology to the experimental or control groups. Each student listened to a tape of music (Independent Variable) while being administered a free recall word list test, a novel word recognition/recall test, and two subtests of the WAIS-R (the digit symbol, and digit span). The four tests administered were the Dependent Variables measuring an effect of the Independent Variable on memory.
For the purposes of this study, memory will be defined as "the ability to reproduce or recount information that was experienced at an earlier time" (Domjan, M., & Burkhard, B., 1982, p. 308). Operationally, memory will be defined by the subject's ability to reproduce on each of four subtests the information that was presented to them. The more information a subject is able to reproduce, the higher the subject's score on that test, and the more "memory" that will be considered to have been recorded.
Based upon the existing research, I hypothesized that the experimental group would display a statistically significant improvement in recall over the control group. I made this hypothesis on the basis of the success of previous less rigorous studies on BBS's and on the basis of the success of other forms of beta brain-wave training in the facilitation of human memory and learning.