Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Brainwave Entrainment

       Brain waves are a field that seems promising for those with any type of neurological differences. They're even being studies for pain relief and other physical types of healing. It's long been accepted that music can affect mood, brainwave entrainment is a more recent development and rather controversial.
       I feel pulled in different directions on this as I do with anything else I hear about. I want to be open-minded but I don't want to waste money or energy looking into something that end up being another "new-age" health fad. I did undergo biofeedback therapy back in the late 1990's. It was an hour's drive away every week or two for months. I certainly didn't have any negative effects and may have had some minor positive effects, but not enough where I can say for sure. I did learn that I has some unusual brainwave patterns and that information from the session was used in research. The treatment I underwent was done with sophisticated equipment with wires glued to my head almost like an EEG. It took a lot of effort, in other words I had a proactive role in this.
       There are other types of brainwave therapy that are more passive. There are a lot of CD's and online downloads where people could use on their own to alter their brainwaves just by listening. I've used some of them and can't really say much good or bad. I understand they are not quick fixes though. I know there are is a lot of skepticism around this, but since many of these albums are affordable I thought I might as well try a few. It's just like vitamins and supplements, many work but the claims tend to get overstated, scepticism follows and then the baby is thrown out with the bathwater. I don't think any of these CD's will make someone lose 50 pounds, quit bad habits, double their IQ, or totally cure ADD, but I do think they show promise for things such as mild insomnia, waking up, relaxation, or attention span. I see a parallel with the whole subliminal message craze years back.  I can remember kids playing heavy metal records backwards to see if the Devil had a special message just for them.
       It is also possible that there is a lot of truth to all this brainwave hype but it's just not as simple as people think. It's one of those things that takes persistence, and many people who pick up a CD in the self-help section of a bookstore- including me- get bored quickly. These are meant to be therapy not entertainment. Some are just an annoying machine-like sound that you have to get used to, others have soft ambient music used as "pink noise" which makes it more palatable to listen to. It's also important to know what is based on conventional scientific research and what is based on pseudo-science. A lot of things too are backed up more with "new age spirituality" than with science. I'm not implying that this makes it all bunk. I am spiritual myself (though not really new-age). I'm not one to blindly sneeze it anything associated with "new age" (and hippies are cool) but I do tend to approach this stuff with caution. It's also important for anyone researching alternative therapy to know if the claims backing something up are science, pseudo-science, religious/theological, "new age hippy stuff", or a mix of all of the above.
       Much of my attempts to look this stuff up takes me to biased sites which sell brainwave entrainment products. There are also sceptic websites which can be equally as biased blindly dismissing anything alternative (flat earth people). Such sites tend to have a tone that seems way too happy to burst people's bubbles. Finding balanced information or opinions is a challenge. In the mean time I'll just go by intuition and if the price is right, I'll just try it for myself.

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