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Presenting two tones of different frequencies to each ear, produces an auditory stimuli called binaural beats, which have been hypothesized to affect cognitive performance. The underlying theoretical assumption is that brainwaves synchronize to the frequency difference between the two tones and this entrainment leads to changes in cognition (Atwater, 1997). However, this assumption has not been rigorously tested, and evidence for the effect of binaural beats on cognition is limited and conflicting. In Experiment 1, a behavioral study, we examined the effects of alpha (10 Hz) band binaural beats on long term memory using a free recall task and found no effect (n=19). In Experiment 2, we used EEG to directly test whether alpha (10 Hz) or beta (15 Hz) band binaural beats embedded in music or pink noise lead to brain entrainment (n=22). There were no signs of entrainment after alpha or beta binaural beat stimulation in either the pink noise or music conditions. In Experiment 3, we tested the effects of beta (15Hz) band binaural beats on brainwave frequencies and on long-term memory using a recognition task (n=22). We found beta binaural beats did not improve long-term memory, but did modulate brainwave frequencies during encoding of items later remembered compared to control tones.

Keywords: binaural beats, long-term memory, brain entrainment, EEG


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  • Subject
    • Psychological Science

  • Institution
    • Gainesville

  • Event location
    • Nesbitt 3110

  • Event date
    • 23 March 2018

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Dr. Troy Smith