Friday, February 24, 2012

Play Your Mind a Melody: Why Sound & Music Therapy Works

In a nervous-system phenomenon called "brainwave entrainment" music has been shown to successfully lure your brain into wave patterns to reduce stress, enhance concentration and create restful sleep.

Pop in a CD, and you may notice your foot thumping to the beat. But did you know your brain could also be tapping along?

Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, director of the Center for Neuroacoustic Research and a chiropractor who has been experimenting with sound since 1980, says listening to specific sound frequencies can train the brain to follow. By shifting your brain into a different frequency, he says, you can shift your state of consciousness to be more aware, relaxed or creative. Although it sounds extremely scientific, the concept is actually based on a basic law of nature.

"Everything in nature times itself to everything else in nature," he explains. "It's the reason why heart cells beat together, why a wine glass vibrates when an opera singer hits a certain note, and why women who share a dorm room have the same menstrual cycle."

It also explains why our brains mimic sound waves played through headphones. "It's an energy-saving phenomenon," Dr. Thompson explains. "It saves energy to time myself to a beat that already exists. The whole universe is versing together to save energy."

The Brain Naturally Tunes Itself to Its Surroundings

Dr. Thompson isn't the first person to discover that the brain tunes itself to external sound frequencies. In October 1973, Dr. Gerald Oster of Mount Sinai Medical Center published a paper in Scientific American showing that sound pulses could be used to cause the entire brain to resonate to that frequency.

"The brain is the most responsive organ in a biological system," Dr. Thompson explains. "So brainwaves are the most sensitive to changing their clock to an external pulse. The body has no allegiance to a particular drummer — it will change to the most dominant pulse in the environment."

Listening to certain recordings with headphones, he asserts, can gently guide your brain into modes for stress relief, better focus, more creativity and heightened productivity.

Music Can Treat Common Ailments

People without specific medical problems can benefit from brainwave entrainment — specifically in the delta frequency, where the deepest state of sleep takes place. "Healing is basically what sleep is all about," he says. "When you go to sleep, the brain runs a series of programs to tune up for the next day."

This post was written by Ginny Figlar for

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