New study on Brainwave Entrainment (By Dr. Huang)

I’m pleased to announce the publication of “A Comprehensive Review of the Psychological Effects of Brainwave Entrainment” in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine this month. This paper is the most comprehensive review of peer reviewed research in the subject, and was written in order to inform those within and the beyond the field of brainwave entrainment (BWE), and to provide sufficient background for future research.

Most of the research known to date has been summarized by David Siever in two unpublished manuscripts that he sells and distributes. They contain much valuable information about the history of BWE, both published and unpublished studies and proposed mechanisms of action. However, despite their length, they do not provide a complete listing of the peer reviewed literature, nor have his manuscripts faced the scientific scrutiny that comes with publishing in a peer reviewed journal. In fact, in our comprehensive search, we found articles that have never before been mentioned by those in the brainwave entrainment development and scientific community. Why? Believe it or not, the problem is in the inconsistency in terminology used to describe BWE. The term, BWE, until today, cannot be found in the scientific literature. Instead it is referred to as audiovisual stimulation, photic stimulation, photic driving, auditory entrainment, etc, etc. In all I did a search using 31 different terms to look for articles on brainwave entrainment, which returned 27,830 articles using Ovid (1 out of the 4 databases I used to do the search). Only a very small handful of these turned out to be articles on BWE. Thus much of the credit needs to go to my bosses at Transparent Corporation, who gave me the time to do this exhaustive, time consuming, and yet important work.

I looked for papers with psychological terms that described outcomes that I’d seen associated with BWE on the web, in conferences and in the published and unpublished literature. After combining the two searches, and screening for those that were indeed articles addressing psychological outcomes of BWE, and those that passed some basic scientific criteria, we ended up with just 20 articles.

The psychological effects that had been examined in relation to BWE included cognitive functioning (we divided it into verbal, non-verbal, memory, attention and overall intelligence), stress (long and short-term), pain, headache/migraines, mood, behavior and pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). When two or more studies had examined similar outcomes, we placed them into tables for greater comparability. Thus we had five tables divided by cognitive functioning, stress, pain, headaches/migraines and mood. Studies used a variety of different frequency protocols and stimulation methods which are outlined in the tables.

Out of the 20 studies, 17 were actually developed to support or confirm a hypothesis, and of these, all found a positive effect in at least one outcome. And in each outcome mentioned, at least one study had a positive finding. What was remarkable was that for some outcomes, only one of several protocols had a positive effect, while others were improved by a variety of different protocols. The most consistent positive findings were found in attention (4/4 studies), pain (3/3 studies) and headache/migraines (3/3). While positive effects were found in all other outcomes examined except for mood, either fewer studies had been conducted or a smaller percentage of the protocols examined were effective. Mood was examined in the 3 studies where the effects of theta were examined on a variety of outcomes. So we believe that the ability of brainwave entrainment to positively effect mood has not been properly tested in the peer reviewed literature.

Overall, we conclude that brainwave entrainment shows real potential to positively affect psychological outcomes. However, more and bigger studies need to be done, using additional outcomes and outcomes already examined. We hope that we’ve provided the necessary background to inspire future research and collaboration, so that the field of brainwave entrainment can gain recognition and momentum in the scientific literature.

To view a copy of this article, visit:

Tina L. Huang, Ph.D.
Director of Research
Transparent Corporation

9 Comments to “New study on Brainwave Entrainment (By Dr. Huang)”

  1. Magnus 13 September 2008 at 3:18 pm #

    Finally some research on this very interesting field of psychology. Hopefully this will help putting BWE into a more empirical research climate, away from the many unscientific new age theories that flood the Internet.

    Thank you, Tina, for a great study. May many build upon it.

  2. Dave Siever 15 September 2008 at 11:22 am #

    Hi Tina,
    Good work on the article! I missed you at the ISNR.
    All the best,

    – dancing in the dendrites!

  3. Paul 24 October 2008 at 4:14 pm #

    Hi Tina,

    I would like to post this article on my website. With your permission I will do so. May I?


  4. Alpha Hart 7 November 2008 at 5:16 am #

    Hi Tina

    Is it possible to ‘view a copy of this article’ without signing up for a years subscription?



  5. puszt 22 December 2008 at 10:22 am #

    just say hello my english very not good.

  6. marion 18 April 2009 at 4:38 pm #

    I was hoping to read this study if available for purchace. Please send me a link of where I can buy it.

  7. Lawrence Rudisill, III 30 September 2009 at 7:59 pm #

    Why is this article not available for all to view?

  8. Ann 8 January 2010 at 5:50 am #

    Dear Tina,

    is there any reliable training program for exploring BWE as a professional in
    a non-clinical setting? Your expertise would be much appreciated.

    Thank you,


  9. brain waves technology 3 May 2011 at 5:12 am #

    I like the helpful information you provide in your articles.I will bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. This paper is the most comprehensive review of peer reviewed research in the subject, and was written in order to inform those within and the beyond the field of brainwave entrainment (BWE), and to provide sufficient background for future research am quite sure I will learn plenty of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next! Thanks for sharing…….

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