A Brief History of Brainwave Entrainment Research

bigstock_Blue_End_Green_Brain_9922868The phenomenon of brainwave entrainment was first identified in 1934; five years after the discovery of Alpha brainwaves in 1929 by Hans Berger, researchers discovered the brainwave state could be pushed deeper by using flickering lights, a technique called Photic Driving, or photic stimulation. In the year 1942, researchers Dempsey and Morison found that repetitive tactile stimulation also produced brainwave entrainment, and in 1959, Dr. Gian Emilio Chatrian, M.D. discovered that “clicks” at a frequency of 15 clicks per seconds, auditory entrainment was possible.

During the 1960s, brainwave entrainment become a tool, rather than simply a scientific phenomenon. Using photic stimulation, anesthesiologist M.S. Sadove, MD was able to reduce the amount of anesthesia needed for surgery, and brainwave entrainment was successfully used during dental procedures, with less anesthesia, less bleeding and a general reduction in anxiety.

In 1973, Dr. Gerald Oster combined two pure sine tones, resulting in a rhythmic “beat” which he dubbed binaural and monaural beats. In comparing binaural and monaural beats, Oster noted that monaural beats elicited very strong cortical responses, the electrical brainwave activity responsible for entrainment. While binaural beats elicited little neural response, Oster felt they binaural beats be useful in the diagnosis of certain neurological disorders.

In the 1980’s Dr. Glen Solomon and other researchers experimented with brainwave entrainment for the relief of headaches, as well as relaxation and meditation. In 1981, Arturo Manns showed the effectiveness of a technique called isochronic tones as a method of auditory brainwave entrainment. In 1981, Michael Hutchison wrote his landmark book, MegaBrain, exploring the possibilities and uses of brainwave entrainment such as enhancing creativity, pain relief and meditation.

In the 1990’s researchers such as Dr. Russell and Dr. Carter explored the potential of using brainwave entrainment with ADHD and other learning disorders, as well as conditions such as chronic pain, chronic fatigue, seasonal affective disorder, and many other disorders.

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