Reviewer: Liesel Deppe
Reference: Binaural Auditory Beats Affect Vigilance Performance and Mood. James D. Lane, Stefan J. Kasian, Justine E. Owens, Gail R. Marsh. Physiology and Behaviour, Volume 63, No. 2. pp. 249-252.
Summary: When two tones of slightly different frequency are presented separately to the left and right ears, the listener perceives a tone that varies in amplitude at a frequency equal to the difference between the two tones. This perceptual phenomenon is known as the binaural auditory beat. Few studies have been published, but anecdotal evidence suggests that these binaural auditory beats affect states of consciousness.
This particular study compared the effects of binaural auditory beats in the EEG beta and EEG theta/ delta ranges on mood, as well as performance of a vigilance task.
Review: This study showed that presentation of beta-frequency binaural auditory beats produced more correct target detections and fewer false alarms than presentation of theta/ delta-frequency binaural auditory beats did. These results suggest that the presentation of binaural auditory beats can affect psychomotor performance and mood. These results may be applied to control attention and arousal and therefore enhance human performance.
Personal Response: As with most of these studies, I find that the number of subjects is to small to come to a concrete conclusion about the effects of binaural auditory beats on human performance. However, the research seems rather promising. Again, this article could be applied to the topic of my final paper: although one would normally want to reduce beta frequencies to combat performance anxiety, this study seems to suggest that it is actually quite beneficial to human performance, and as a result to musical performance. Perhaps musicians do need this frequency in order to maintain concentration and perform at optimum levels.