Humans have an uncanny ability to find new and interesting ways to get off their faces. This generally involves sniffing, snorting, licking, chewing, or even injecting different substances.
In a new study, researchers analyzed a relatively new method of mind-altering that uses digital sounds to feed conflicting frequencies into each ear. Some people report that by tuning in to these “binaural beats,” they can drop out, reduce pain, improve memory, and reduce anxiety and depression.
To determine what type of overlap there might be between the usage of greater traditional psychoactive substance and experimentation with binaural beats, a researcher team from Australia and the United Kingdom examined into the 2021 Global Drug Survey, a survey of over 30,000 people from 22 countries.
They found that about 5 percent of those surveyed had engaged with binaural beats at some point in the past year. Of these, only over one in ten did so solely for recreational purposes.
Most users have been in their late teens to early 20s, had used prohibited substances which includes MDMA or cannabis, and were from US, Mexico, UK, Brazil and Poland.
Aside from finding a high, his reasons for experimenting with binaural beats varied widely.
“It’s very new, we simply do not know much about the use of binaural beats as digital drugs,” says lead author Monica Barratt, a social scientist at RMIT University in Australia.
“This survey shows that this is happening in several countries. We had anecdotal information, but this was the first time we’ve formally asked people how, why and when they are using them.”
The phenomenon of binaural beats itself is not new, first appearing withinside the literature as far back as the mid-nineteenth century. But way to the convenience with which humans can now spin a trippy tempo made from conflicting frequencies and share them online, binaural beats are getting an more and more famous artwork form.
Theoretically, it is thought that binaural beats produce changes in the brain, because of the way our sensory system interprets different low-end frequencies when fed separately to each ear.
For example, listen a 400 hertz tone in one ear and a 440 hertz tone in another ear, and your brain interprets it as a single 40 hertz hum somewhere in your skull.
This interpretation needs greater than simply our peripheral auditory machinery – it uses a complex of brainstem hardware buried deep inner our heads, prompting neurons far and wide to synchronize into wave patterns related to relaxation.
That is the theory. While there’re a few studies that inspire in addition investigation of binaural beats as a method of easing acute anxiety, others argue the advantages of binaural beat therapy – at the least on the subject of changing moods and mind – remain to be seen.
Scientific skepticism aside, there is no shortage of experimenters willing to provide binaural beats a go. Which for 12 percent of people who reported listening to them recently, consists of trying to replicate a psychedelic experience.
“Just like ingestible substances, some users of binaural beats have been after a high chasing,” says Barratt.
Any potential worries that listening to mind-changing music is probably a stepping stone for substance abuse later were not supported by the study. If anything, maximum of these hoping for a change of consciousness had been already using different illicit drugs.
Additionally, according to Barratt, there were many other reasons people explored a binaural soundscape.
“Many humans saw them as a source of help, which include for sleep therapy or pain relief,” she says.
Future researchers will have to clarify whether the so-called “digital drugs” generate more hype than highs. For now, the statistics give us a good starting point for tracking the behavior of those who are self-medicating or seeking pleasure through alternative means.
This research was published in the Drug and Alcohol Review.