Reference: A Comprehensive Review of the Psychological Effects of Brainwave Entrainment. By Tina L. Huang and Christine Charyton. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine; Sep/Oct 2008; 14, 5; Research Library
Summary: The authors searched for studies that have documented brainwave entrainment between the years 1806(!) and 2007. They limited their studies to those written in the English language during this time period. They further narrowed their selection by limiting it to those studies that used rhythmic stimuli to affect psychological outcomes. Case studies and peer-reviewed articles were also excluded. Psychological outcomes were measured using standard assessment methods. Clinical measurements, such as electro-encaphalogram response, galvanic skin response and neurotransmitter levels were exluded.
Psychological outcomes addressed, included the following: cognition, stress and anxiety, pain relief, mood, behaviour, premenstrual syndrome, headaches and migraines.
Review: The authors systematically approached their review and set out their method clearly and logically. They also include a brief history of how the first clinical application of brainwave entrainment (BWE) was discovered and applied in the 1800’s. They continue to trace its history, culminating with the present-day research, which are clearly more sophisticated than in its early days.
For each psychological outcome, the authors listed the studies and some the statistics for those studies. These statistics included how many studies, how many subjects; their gender and age, duration of the session, amongst others. Findings were presented both in table form (good for a quick overview), as well as a narrative to flesh out the information specified in the tables.
For my purposes, I found it useful that the authors also chose to focus a little on the various frequencies and their effects, both short-term and long-term.
I agree that more work is needed to show the effects and applications of BWE. In particular, I would like to see more studies with a higher number of participants, so that the statistical sample will be larger.
Personal Response: The authors’ findings suggest that brainwave entrainment can be used as an effective therapeutic tool. However, they do point out that more controlled trials are necessary to test additional protocols with outcomes. As such, this review supplied me with information and further reading suggestions for my final paper. In this paper I intend to discuss brainwave entrainment as a tool for musicians in combating performance anxiety.