Gamma brain waves are the highest frequency brain wave type. A number of studies have found links between gamma activity and a wide variety of significant cognitive functions, such as idea formation, linguistic processing, and multiple types of learning. One interesting finding on gamma, for example, is the way it appears to be linked to the cognitive act of processing memories- the rate of the waves seems to correlate with the speed at which a subject can recall memories; the faster the waves, the faster the recollection.
Check out even more details on the history of gamma wave research, and the benefits of stimulating gamma, by clicking the image below to view our full gamma brain wave infographic- part 4 of 5 in the series!
The studies highlighted in the infographic above were cited in Dr. Tina Huang’s landmark overview of brainwave stimulation, “A Comprehensive Review of the Psychological Effects of Brainwave Entrainment.”
We have just one more brain wave infographic still to come- we’ll take a closer look at theta brain waves in the final part of our series.
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Andrew kindly took the time to talk with me about what inspired him to become a composer, and the challenges and process involved in the massive task of creating Thought Sounds 2: Focus. Enjoy!
Q: What’s your background and history with music, and what made you want to get involved in composing?
Andrew: I started playing guitar when I was 15, playing in all sorts of bands in high school. After graduating I attended the Atlanta Institute of Music where I studied Jazz Performance and Music Theory. While in Atlanta I purchased my first synthesizer (a Yamaha V-50). Given this was 1990 the sound choices on the keyboard were limited, so I became very skilled at programming my own sounds and along the way realized that what I was really after was composition. Around the same time I heard the James Horner’s score for Star Trek II, and I knew immediately I wanted to be a film composer. Later I studied Music Composition at the University of South Carolina. Since then I’ve worked tirelessly to build my studio and master my craft. I’ve written for independent films, advertising, theater, multimedia, as well as extensively licensing my music.
Q: How did you approach writing music for the specific purpose of helping listeners to focus? From a composing standpoint, what did you feel needed to happen in the pieces, or not happen, to meet the goals of this collection?
Andrew: Well it was a bit of a challenge at first, but once I had a few pieces under my belt it started making sense. To start there were the basic restrictions of little to no percussion and the need for a constant bed of music at all times. Initially I wasn’t concerned with this, but I quickly realized how creative I had to be to write completely without percussion. I write a good deal of orchestral music, so I basically had to approach all of the styles like I would an orchestral piece. Also, instead of having non-pitched percussion I would try to achieve the same movement using instruments with stronger attacks [Ed. “attack” in music refers to how quickly a note reaches full volume, or how strongly a note is struck]. Putting aside the instrumentation, the most helpful process for me was to write a piece of music and then put it on a loop while I did other work. That way I could get a much better feel of how well it helped me focus, or if parts were distracting. In the beginning I made more revisions but as I went along the original versions were a lot closer.
Q: Aside from the minimal percussion requirement, did any other goal or restriction of the project present a significant challenge? How did you adapt?
Andrew: I would say one of the more difficult restrictions was to keep the dynamic changes minimal and fluid. Sometimes having those big changes are what really keeps the listener interested in the music, so without that I needed to come up with other ways to renew interest mid-track. I was always in a push and pull between providing enough repetition to allow the listener to sink into the music and keeping the music from getting stale over such a long run time.
Q: There’s an incredible variety of styles, instruments, techniques used in these pieces- how did you get the inspiration to push these tracks into so many different places, and what was that writing process like?
Andrew: Well, the very fact that there are so many styles helped greatly in keeping things fresh. I would jump around between styles constantly, so I wouldn’t settle into any particular process at any time. I tend to write a lot of music anyway so I have developed techniques for myself to force me to look in new directions. Sometimes I’ll even assign pitches of a certain key to numbers on a pair of dice and give them a few rolls to come up with a sequence of pitches. I can pretty much take any set of notes and build it into a successful piece of music. It’s a good way to avoid repeating something you’ve heard before or falling into predictable patterns.
Q: How does your composing process begin? Does it start with a melody or concept in your head, playing around with a given instrument, or with music theory? Maybe a combination of the above?
Andrew: Yes, it happens in all of those ways. In the past I have usually come at a new piece more from the perspective of the orchestration or general sound of the instruments rather than from a harmonic base. I have found for myself, however, that the best pieces usually start with defining the chord progressions for the entire piece up front. After that, I write my melodies and counter melodies. Once the harmonic step is done I can take it in any direction I choose through instrumentation, orchestration, tempo, etc. But sometimes this approach just doesn’t work for a certain type of piece that is more about creating a certain feel, or if I simply get inspired by a sound or rhythm.
Q: Do you have any favorite tracks from the collection?
Andrew: Sure. Here are some I personally enjoy either from my experience composing them, or simply because I like listening to them. I am really happy with all of the tracks, but especially so for the orchestral pieces.
Starting today, after more than a year of intense work and many years of research, the next volume of Thought Sounds is available from Transparent!
Thought Sounds 2: Focus is an incredible new collection of soundtracks from an extraordinarily talented composer, designed to offer optimal audio environments for concentration, focusing, studying and working. And just like with Thought Sounds 1, every single track is rigorously engineered to be perfectly compatible with brainwave entrainment.
The goal with this collection was to create music that is active, engaging and motivating without ever being distracting, to produce the ideal background for focusing and concentrating. Another goal was to offer these carefully constructed soundtracks in huge variety, so that there is something here for everyone’s tastes and to match the exact purpose of any given brainwave session. These tracks are perfect for sessions like cognitive enhancement, focus/attention enhancement, study help- really, anything involving beta!
You’ll find ambient electronic and minimal techno here, along with some beautiful and original guitar and piano arrangements, even classically-inspired orchestral pieces and a dash of world music, plus some “hybrid” tracks featuring a bit of all the above.
You can get a feeling for how much is in this collection, and just how excellent the composition quality is, with the sample reel demo below. Although, only a very small portion of the music is represented here. You’ll hear parts of 12 different tracks, just over 4 and a half minutes in total, but the entire collection includes nearly 14 hours of music!
Thought Sounds 2 was truly a massive undertaking. We’re thrilled to finally be able to make it available to everyone, and couldn’t be more pleased with the finished product. Adam mentioned to me that he spoke with over a dozen composers before finally being able to find someone who was willing and able to tackle a project this challenging. Fortunately, he did find a musician more than up to the task- we were lucky to have Andrew Foust, who usually works on scores for film and theater, as the composer for this entire collection. He did absolutely incredible work in creating such a huge amount of music (140 soundtracks!), with tremendous variety, and all while staying within the intensely restrictive criteria for the soundtracks to truly meet the goals of this volume.
Our infographic featuring delta waves is now online! We’re more than halfway through the series now. Once again, we have a brief history of delta wave stimulation at the top. Following that, you’ll get visual explanations of the key statistical findings from important research in the field- including studies on headache relief, reduced anxiety, and improved sleep. The first two studies highlighted in the infographic above were cited in Dr. Tina Huang’s landmark overview of brainwave stimulation, “A Comprehensive Review of the Psychological Effects of Brainwave Entrainment.”
The third study, on improved sleep, was conducted by David Siever, one of the leading experts in the field today.
We’ve only got two more brainwave types to cover now! Gamma waves will be our next subject, before wrapping up the series with a look at theta waves.
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The second part of our brain wave infographic series is now online- this time beta waves are in the spotlight! A brief history of stimulating beta activity is included, followed by visual breakdowns of significant data from important research in the field- including studies on verbal/reading skills, academic achievement, fatigue reduction and increased focus/attention.
To be included in that review, articles had to be original, full-length journal articles in peer-reviewed journals, and the studies had to be of an experimental design, with outcomes measured using reliable and appropriate test procedures, and with statistical outcomes revealed.
That highly selective criteria means that these studies represent only a portion of all of the work conducted in this field, but are decidedly some of the most significant.
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Researchers at Chiang Mai University in Thailand, led by Dr. Pornpattana Vichitvejpaisal, M.D., have found that patients listening to binaural beats during surgery experienced lower heart rates and decreased anxiety throughout the procedure. Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly required surgical procedures in the USA, and it is often performed with only local anesthesia, meaning the patient is awake while the surgery is being conducted. That last fact makes it quite clear why anxiety can be an issue for many of the patients who undergo this procedure.
The findings were presented this month at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. I had the chance to discuss this study with the lead researcher, Dr. Vichitvejpaisal, who generously offered his time to answer a few questions and provide additional details about the use of binaural beats in this experiment.
Here’s what Dr. Vichitvejpaisal had to say about the protocol and session configuration used for this study:
“We created binaural beats with a frequency of 20 Hz (EEG: beta wave, for normal activity or anxiety) in the first 5 minutes.
The binaural beat frequency was set to decline gradually to the therapeutic frequency of 10 Hz (EEG: alpha wave, for relaxation) within the following 5 minutes and be sustained for the remaining 50 minutes to ensure enough operative time.
Musical arrangements with relaxing components of melodies, tones and rhythms with a 60-minute duration were embedded with the binaural beats. Natural sounds such as waterfalls, birds, ocean, river and forest sounds were also inserted.”
The study included 141 people, who were split up into groups of 47 each. One group listened to the binaural beats combined with music and nature sounds, the second group listened only to the music with the natural noises, and the third group didn’t listen to anything at all.
The result of the experiment was that the binaural beats group experienced significant reductions in heart rate, systolic blood pressure and anxiety, compared to the control group that did not listen to anything. The patient’s anxiety was measured by the STAI (State Trait Anxiety Inventory), which is a standard and widely used test in the field.
To the team here at Transparent, one of the most exciting aspects of this research is the use of a control group listening to only music, without the binaural beats. Other significant studies have used this control method as well, and it’s a great test to further validate the brainwave entrainment effect as being separate from the neurological results of simply listening to relaxing music.
Those in the group receiving binaural beat stimulation showed the largest reduction in heart rate and anxiety levels, compared to both the control group and the group who listened to music without binaural beats.
Dr. Vichitvejpaisal does have goals to complete even more research in this area, he explained, “we plan to conduct this research on more operative surgery that causes anxiety, or long time operative surgery, to evaluate more effects of the binaural beat.”
That’s good news for the entire field, and we’re looking forward to the results of any future research ventures from this team.
Medical Xpress reported this anecdote about the experience of one patient during the study:
“Dr. Vichitvejpaisal referenced one of his study participants who reported that during her first cataract surgery, she was afraid from the moment she entered the surgical suite. Though she’d been told it wouldn’t take long, the surgery seemed to drag on endlessly. Receiving sound therapy during her second surgery dramatically changed her experience from start to finish. She said that she felt very little anxiety, and that the surgery was over before she knew it.”
If you’d like to try a binaural beat/brainwave entrainment session, Neuro-Programmer 3 is a great place to start.
This entrainment demo video is designed to stimulate alpha activity, and features music from Thought Sounds along with 10 minutes of completely original and custom animation that evolves and shifts throughout the session runtime.
Look out for more video like this coming soon- you can subscribe directly to our YouTube channel to get an instant update in your feed there when we post new videos!
Windows 8 isn’t out just yet, but our software is already compatible with that upcoming release in updates available today for Neuro-Programmer, Mind WorkStation, and Mind Stereo! So, you can rest assured that you won’t have any problems continuing to use your Transparent programs if you are planning on installing Windows 8.
As always, these updates are completely free. They include numerous minor bug fixes and performance updates as well, and the latest version of Mind WorkStation actually expands the program with a new graph editor! This feature provides even greater control and flexibility in how you track and view your data.
The graph editor includes comprehensive options for labeling and presenting data, and allows you to easily export your graph to a .pdf file, or one of many image formats.
You’ll have the chance to download the updates automatically next time you start any of these programs, or you can get the latest versions right here: http://www.transparentcorp.com/dl/
We’ve created an infographic all about alpha brain waves! It kicks off with a brief history of brain wave stimulation, and then delves into visual representations of some of the most interesting and statistically significant experiments involving alpha wave stimulation.
All but one of the experiments featured met Dr. Tina Huang’s standards for inclusion in her landmark study, “A Comprehensive Review of the Psychological Effects of Brainwave Entrainment.” The one exception is the study concerning meditation by Aftanas and Golocheikine- that was selected here for its excellent EEG scans showing the clear role of alpha activity in experienced meditators.
This is the first in a series of 4 infographics, with three more focusing specifically on beta, theta, and delta brain waves on the way!
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