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Many reports have suggested binaural beat therapy can affect mood, anxiety, and even improve symptoms of developmental delay. Unfortunately the majority of the reports and articles making the aforementioned claims are in the form of empirical data. Peer review literature utilizing 30 minute long treatment sessions with a frequency of 2 times per week for 4 weeks reveal interesting findings. A relatively small sample size of 15 volunteers with mild anxiety reported lower inventory scores on pre- and post-study, State-Trait Anxiety Inventories. However, the scores were not statistically significant. Statistical significance indicates that an occurrence of the data was probably the result of a causative factor and not simply a chance result. Therefore data that is not statistically significant means the results were not most likely due to chance and not reliable. Altern Ther Health Med. 2001 Jan;7(1):58-63.
It is widely accepted that anxiety is a product of a structure in the temporal lobes know as the amygdala. (Davis, 1992) The amygdala performs important roles in the formation and storage of memories associated with emotions including anxiety. The temporal lobes share a myriad of connections with the frontal lobes as well as the spine. The frontal lobes provide stimulation to the temporal lobes in the form of inhibition. The temporal lobes are also the central representation of auditory and vestibular information. (Patten 2nd edition) Subsequent stimulation and to these auditory information centers via binaural therapy or music therapy may explain the improvement of temporal lobe/amygdala structures.
Music therapy has been proven to help decrease symptoms of depressions and anxiety. A 1992 study identified music listening and relaxation instruction as an effective way to reduce pain and anxiety in women undergoing painful gynecological procedures. And other studies have proved music can reduce other ‘negative’ human emotions like fear, distress and depression. Sheri Robb and a team of researchers published a report in the Journal of Music Therapy in 1992, outlining their findings that music assisted relaxation procedures (music listening, deep breathing and other exercises) effectively reduced anxiety in pediatric surgical patients on a burn unit.
Binaural beat therapy may be beneficial in reducing mild anxiety. Future studies should include age as a factor in outcomes. A controlled trial that includes binaural beat therapy as well as simple music therapy as adjunctive treatment to conventional therapy for mild anxiety is warranted. This would differentiate the merits and benefits of the two auditory therapies.
Written by Dr. Homer Cavazos, BrainworX Centers