Published:  2021-09-01

Effects of binaural and monaural beat stimulation on attention and EEG

Authors:  Hessel Engelbregt, Marinda Barmentlo, Daniel Keeser, Oliver Pogarell, Jan Berend Deijen

Tags:  Attention, Auditory beat stimulation, Binaural beats, EEG, Flanker task, Monaural beats

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Nowadays a popular technique to improve mood and cognition is auditory beat stimulation (ABS), which is thought to induce a frequency-following response of brainwaves. The main types of ABS are monaural beats (MB) and binaural beats (BB). BB involves the presentation of a specific frequency to one ear and another frequency to the other ear which may induce neural entrainment. A difference between the frequencies of 40 Hz is assumed to improve cognition. The present study examined the effect of 40 Hz binaural beats (BB) and monaural beats (MB) on attention and electroencephalography (EEG). A total of 25 first-year psychology students (11 males, 14 females) performed a Flanker task while EEG was recorded during the 5 min-presentation of pink noise (PN), MB and BB. With respect to attention, as measured by the Flanker task, the number of false responses in the BB condition was smaller than that in the PN condition while the number of false responses in the MB condition was larger as compared to the PN condition. As there was no association of BB with a consistent increase in absolute 40 or 45 Hz power compared to PN or MB, EEG recordings could not confirm the hypothesized neural entrainment in the brain. Overall, the current findings show that listening to 40 Hz BB improves attention but do not show the occurrence of neural entrainment. Future research is recommended to include a larger sample, to use a broader cognitive test battery and to present auditory beats with a longer duration.