Part of the Internet acronyms and lingo glossary:

Digital drugs, more accurately called binaural beats, are sounds that are thought to be capable of changing brain wave patterns and inducing an altered state of consciousness similar to that effected by taking drugs or achieving a deep state of meditation. 

Binaural beats occur when two tones with slightly different frequencies are played together. Without headphones, the slight difference in the two frequencies is perceived by the listener as a single tone that wavers slightly. With headphones, however, the two tones are isolated and the listener hears each frequency clearly in a different ear. As the brain processes the two tones, it must take into account the slight difference between the frequencies. To the listener, this difference is perceived as rhythmic beats inside the head.

The brain processes rhythmic stimulus as electrical impulses. The goal of digital drugs is to purposely control the electrical impulses and encourage the listener’s brain to synchronize its brain waves with the binaural beats. This synchronization, which is achieved by selecting binaural tones within a particular frequency level, is called Frequency Following Response (FFF) and is part of a concept called entrainment. Entrainment, the synchronization of one biological rhythm to another, is not a new concept.  It forms the basis for many types of meditation and medical bio-feedback.  

Digital drugs are also known as sound healing, solfeggio frequency therapy and more recently, i-dosing. The letter "i" stands for Internet -- videos and music downloads with binaural beats can be found quite easily by searching the Internet.     

Learn more about digital drugs:

Frequencies are measured in units called hertz (Hz).  By listening to two tones whose difference falls within a particular hertz level, the listener hopes to achieve a particular mood or change in energy. For instance, if the listener wanted to be very, very relaxed, he might choose to listen to a tone with 140Hz in one ear and 145Hz in the other. The listener's brain would perceive the difference between the two frequencies (5Hz) and adjust the listener's brain waves accordingly. If the listener wanted to be energized, however, he might choose to listen to 130Hz in one ear and 150 Hz in the other.  A difference of 20Hz in frequencies would produce a different state of mind.

Waves 

Frequency range   

State of mind

Delta  

0.5Hz - 4Hz

Deep sleep

Theta  

4Hz - 8Hz

Drowsiness (also first stage of sleep)

Alpha  

8Hz - 14Hz

Relaxed but alert

Beta  

14Hz - 30Hz

Highly alert and focused

A little trivia:

Instruments are tuned to 140hz.  This is known as "concert pitch." When a musician uses a tuning fork or electronic tuner, he listens for binaural beats and makes adjustments to the instruments until the beats are gone. The absence of binaural beats means that the instrument is in tune. 

Try it out:

Music, breathing exercises and guided imagery are often used to enhance the effects of binaural beats. Grab your headphones and experience it for yourself!

Learn more about i-dosing:
> Ron Doyle blogs about I-Dosing: Digital Drugs and Binaural Beats for Psychology Today.  
> Ryan Singel pokes fun at the media frenzy over i-dosing on Wired.com.

This was last updated in July 2010
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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