Binaural auditory beats affect long-term memory
- 762 Downloads
The presentation of two pure tones to each ear separately with a slight difference in their frequency results in the perception of a single tone that fluctuates in amplitude at a frequency that equals the difference of interaural frequencies. This perceptual phenomenon is known as binaural auditory beats, and it is thought to entrain electrocortical activity and enhance cognition functions such as attention and memory. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of binaural auditory beats on long-term memory. Participants (n = 32) were kept blind to the goal of the study and performed both the free recall and recognition tasks after being exposed to binaural auditory beats, either in the beta (20 Hz) or theta (5 Hz) frequency bands and white noise as a control condition. Exposure to beta-frequency binaural beats yielded a greater proportion of correctly recalled words and a higher sensitivity index dʹ in recognition tasks, while theta-frequency binaural-beat presentation lessened the number of correctly remembered words and the sensitivity index. On the other hand, we could not find differences in the conditional probability for recall given recognition between beta and theta frequencies and white noise, suggesting that the observed changes in recognition were due to the recollection component. These findings indicate that the presentation of binaural auditory beats can affect long-term memory both positively and negatively, depending on the frequency used.
We thank the editor and reviewers for their highly valuable comments and suggestions that led to significant improvement of the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
Miguel Garcia-Argibay, Miguel A. Santed, and José M. Reales declare having no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Aftanas, L. I., & Golocheikine, S. A. (2001). Human anterior and frontal midline theta and lower alpha reflect emotionally positive state and internalized attention: High-resolution EEG investigation of meditation. Neuroscience Letters, 310(1), 57–60. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0304-3940(01)02094-8.Google Scholar
- Alameda, J. R., & Cuetos, F. (1995). Diccionario de frecuencias de las unidades lingüísticas del español. Servicio de Publicaciones de La Universidad de Oviedo.Google Scholar
- Audacity Team. (2015). Audacity®: Free Audio Editor and Recorder.Google Scholar
- Bösel, R. (1993). Die cerebrale Theta-Rhythmizität unterstützt kontextabhängige Diskriminationsleistungen. Kognitionswissenschaft, 3(1), 53–69.Google Scholar
- Brenner, R. P., Ulrich, R. F., Spiker, D. G., Sclabassi, R. J., Reynolds, C. F., Marin, R. S., & Boller, F. (1986). Computerized EEG spectral analysis in elderly normal, demented and depressed subjects. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 64(6), 483–492. https://doi.org/10.1016/0013-4694(86)90184-7.Google Scholar
- Buzsáki, G. (2006). Rhythms of the brain. New York: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195301069.001.0001.
- Cabeza, R., Grady, C. L., Nyberg, L., McIntosh, A. R., Tulving, E., Kapur, S., Craik, F. I. M. (1997). Age-related differences in neural activity during memory encoding and retrieval: A positron emission tomography study. The Journal of Neuroscience, 17(1), 391–400.Google Scholar
- de Vanssay-Maigne, A., Noulhiane, M., Devauchelle, A. D., Rodrigo, S., Baudoin-Chial, S., Meder, J. F., Chassoux, F. (2011). Modulation of encoding and retrieval by recollection and familiarity: Mapping the medial temporal lobe networks. NeuroImage, 58(4), 1131–1138. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.06.086.Google Scholar
- Dickter, C. L., & Kieffaber, P. D. (2013). EEG methods for the psychological sciences. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Fernández, M. M. (1996). Señales aleatorias y ruido. ETS de Ingenieros de Telecomunicación. http://lmi.bwh.harvard.edu/papers/pdfs/1996/martin-fernandezCOURSE96b.pdf.
- Huang, T. L., & Charyton, C. (2008). A comprehensive review of the psychological effects of brainwave entrainment. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 14(5), 38–50.Google Scholar
- Kennerly, R. C. (1994). An empirical investigation into the effect of beta frequency binaural beat audio signals on four measures of human memory (MSc thesis). West Georgia College.Google Scholar
- Le Scouarnec, R. P., Poirier, R. M., Owens, J. E., Gauthier, J., Taylor, A. G., & Foresman, P. A. (2001). Use of binaural beat tapes for treatment of anxiety: A pilot study of tape preference and outcomes. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 7(1), 58–63.Google Scholar
- Macmillan, N. A., & Creelman, C. D. (2004). Detection theory: A user’s guide. Mahwah: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- Moore, B. C. J. (2012). An introduction to the psychology of hearing (6th edn.). London: Brill.Google Scholar
- Ortiz, T., Martínez, A. M., Fernández, A., Maestu, F., Campo, P., Hornero, R., Poch, J. (2008). Impact of auditory stimulation at a frequency of 5 Hz in verbal memory. Actas Espanolas de Psiquiatria, 36(6), 307–313.Google Scholar
- Padmanabhan, R., Hildreth, A. J., & Laws, D. (2005). A prospective, randomised, controlled study examining binaural beat audio and pre-operative anxiety in patients undergoing general anaesthesia for day case surgery. Anaesthesia, 60(9), 874–877. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2044.2005.04287.x.Google Scholar
- Paus, T., Zatorre, R. J., Hofle, N., Caramanos, Z., Gotman, J., Petrides, M., & Evans, A. C. (1997). Time-related changes in neural systems underlying attention and arousal during the performance of an auditory vigilance task. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 9(3), 392–408. https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn.1918.104.22.1682.Google Scholar
- Pennekamp, P., Bösel, R., Mecklinger, A., & Ott, H. (1994). Differences in EEG-theta for responded and omitted targets in a sustained attention task. Journal of Psychophysiology, 8(2), 131–141.Google Scholar
- Ranganath, C., Yonelinas, A. P., Cohen, M. X., Dy, C. J., Tom, S. M., & D’Esposito, M. (2004). Dissociable correlates of recollection and familiarity within the medial temporal lobes. Neuropsychologia, 42(1), 2–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2003.07.006.Google Scholar
- Saletu, B., & Grünberger, J. (1985). Memory dysfunction and vigilance: Neurophysiological and psychopharmacological aspects. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 444(1 Memory Dysfun), 406–427. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1985.tb37604.x.Google Scholar
- Smeets, T., Otgaar, H., Candel, I., & Wolf, O. T. (2008). True or false? Memory is differentially affected by stress-induced cortisol elevations and sympathetic activity at consolidation and retrieval. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 33(10), 1378–1386. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2008.07.009.Google Scholar
- Strange, B. A., Hurlemann, R., & Dolan, R. J. (2003). An emotion-induced retrograde amnesia in humans is amygdala- and -adrenergic-dependent. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(23), 13626–13631. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1635116100.
- Swann, R., Bosanko, S., Cohen, R., Midgley, R., & Seed, K. M. (1982). The brain—a user’s manual. New York: GP Putnam’s Sons, p. 92.Google Scholar
- Tallon-Baudry, C., Bertrand, O., & Fischer, C. (2001). Oscillatory synchrony between human extrastriate areas during visual short-term memory maintenance. The Journal of Neuroscience, 21(20), RC177. Retrieved from http://www.jneurosci.org/content/21/20/RC177.
- Tulving, E., Kapur, S., Craik, F. I., Moscovitch, M., & Houle, S. (1994). Hemispheric encoding/retrieval asymmetry in episodic memory: Positron emission tomography findings. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 91(6), 2016–2020.Google Scholar
- Vernon, D. (2009). Human potential: Exploring techniques used to enhance human performance. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Wahbeh, H., Calabrese, C., Zwickey, H., & Zajdel, D. (2007). Binaural beat technology in humans: A pilot study to assess neuropsychologic, physiologic, and electroencephalographic effects. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 13(2), 199–206. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2006.6201.Google Scholar
- Wernick, J. S., & Starr, A. (1968). Binaural interaction in the superior olivary complex of the cat: An analysis of field potentials evoked by binaural-beat stimuli. Journal of Neurophysiology, 31(3), 428–441.Google Scholar