FOR LEARNING AND STRESS REDUCTION
important element in the exploration of learning is the
use of sound and music to facilitate a calm, focused
learning environment and enhance sensory organization and
processing. As quiet music containing Hemi-Sync sounds is
played in the background at home and during therapy
sessions, many children become more focused in their
attention. They frequently are more open to exploring new
sensory experiences and movement possibilities.
is Hemi-Sync? How Does it Work Physically?
Hemi-Sync is a special binaural beat sound technology that helps people relax and learn more easily. In the creation of Hemi-Sync, different sound frequencies are presented to each ear through stereo headphones or over open speakers. These create a difference tone as the brain puts together the two tones it actually hears. Research with EEG monitoring has shown that the difference tone is identified by a change in the electrical pattern produced by the brain. For example, frequencies of 100 Hz and 107 Hz produce a difference tone or binaural beat frequency of 7 Hz. Monitoring of the brain’s electricity (EEG) shows that the brain produces the 7 Hz pattern with equal frequency and amplitude of the waveform in both hemispheres. Because of the apparent synchronization of the two halves of the brain occurring with this type of facilitation, this procedure has been called Hemi-Sync (short for Hemispheric Synchronization). We don’t know where or exactly how the synchronization occurs in the brain.
How Can Hemi-Sync Help Learning?
Hemi-Sync recordings have helped children and adults focus their attention more easily for learning. Because the sounds activate both sides of the brain, it is often easier to process information. Hemi-Sync helps reduce physical tension and promote relaxation. However, it simultaneously helps keep the mind alert. It helps calm the emotions too, and reduces the fearfulness and negativity that often interfere with learning. Hemi-Sync helps the brain organize its response to sensory information, and in many instances reduces sensory defensiveness. Some Hemi-Sync tapes are designed to help a person get to sleep and get a deeper more refreshing sleep. We know that learning is more difficult for children and adults who don’t get enough sleep.
How Can Hemi-Sync Reduce Stress and Promote Relaxation?
In addition to promoting physical relaxation, Hemi-Sync signals also influence the areas deep in the center of the brain that process our emotions. They support the intention of the listener to be calmer and more focused. Stress thrives in a mental environment of unfocused attention where every random thought diverts the mind into patterns that promote fear and anxiety. Adults listening to Hemi-Sync recordings report that they are not as caught up in small repetitive thoughts and feelings and are able to see and understand “the big picture” more easily. Children and adults often become less anxious and more open to new possibilities when listening to recordings containing Hemi-Sync.
Metamusic is the trade name for background music that contains Hemi-Sync sounds. The Hemi-Sync signals incorporated into Metamusic tapes have been shown clinically to increase physical and mental relaxation, to improve the organization and function of the sensorimotor system, and to improve concentration and focus of attention.
Are There Different Types of Metamusic?
Three distinctive Hemi-Sync sound patterns may be blended with the music component of Metamusic. There is a relationship between the predominant frequency of the Hemi-Sync sounds and our state of awareness. Therefore, listener’s report different subjective experiences when listening to recordings containing different types of Hemi-Sync.
• Relaxed focus tapes and CDs are based on Hemi-Sync sound patterns that invite the brain to produce more activity in the lower brain wave frequencies that have been associated with greater openness for learning and creativity (i.e., theta range of 4-7 Hz ). Most listeners experience the unique combination of increased physical relaxation with a high level of mental alertness, and a wide or open focus of attention. The majority of Metamusic recordings contain these “relaxed focus frequencies”.
• Concentration tapes and CDs incorporate higher frequency Hemi-Sync patterns in the alpha (8-12 Hz) and beta (13-26 Hz) ranges. Listeners report a high level of alertness combined with the increased narrow focus of attention used in task-oriented activities such as studying, writing reports, or repetitive activities requiring a high level of focused alertness.
• Sleep tapes create the pattern of binaural beats that gradually move the listener into the very slow delta state (1-3 Hz) associated with deep sleep.
Can Hemi-Sync Help Learning?
Hemi-Sync tapes have helped children and adults
focus their attention more easily for learning.
Because the sounds activate both sides of the brain,
it is often easier to process information. Hemi-Sync
helps reduce physical tension and promote relaxation.
However, it simultaneously helps keep the mind alert.
It helps calm the emotions too, and reduces the
fearfulness and negativity that often interfere with
learning. Hemi-Sync helps the brain organize its
response to sensory information, and in many
instances reduces sensory defensiveness. Some
Hemi-Sync tapes are designed to help a person get to
sleep and get a deeper more refreshing sleep.
Are a Lot of Metamusic Tapes. Which One Should I Use?
Select the category of tape you wish to use. Do you want to support a more relaxed, creative focus or a more narrow focus of attention? Or do you want a recording that will help you fall asleep? Remember that music and sound supports your intention. The Hemi-Sync sounds that are blended into the music are the same or similar in each category of Metamusic tapes. The biggest difference is the music itself. Metamusic tapes are designed to be played in the background, so you typically don’t find strong melodies and rhythms that would ask you to pay attention. Differences lie mostly in the instruments used and the general melody of each piece. Music preferences are highly individual.
If a tape is used at home or in therapy over open speakers, it is very important for everyone listening to like the tape. Hemi-Sync doesn’t make the brain respond in a specific way just because of the sounds. It invites the brain to participate. If an adult or child is saying “no” inside to the sound of the music, the brain won’t participate, and Hemi-Sync won’t work.
If you are using a recording with another person – infant, child, or adult– observe very carefully for any cues that the tape/CD is not acceptable. Even very young or delayed children will tell you through non-verbal cues whether the music and Hemi-Sync is okay. If you sense that it’s not okay, don’t use it. If at all possible, borrow a tape or listen to a music sampler tape before buying a tape/CD. If you buy one that irritates you or your child, ask to return it and exchange it for a different one.
Are There Metamusic Recordings for Children with Specific Diagnoses?
Most children respond positively to each of the three types of Metamusic recording. There are no specific tapes or CDs for a specific diagnosis such as cerebral palsy or Down syndrome. However, children who have problems with sensory overload and sensory defensiveness typically respond best to recordings in the Relaxed Focus group. Children who have attention deficit disorders generally prefer tapes in the Concentration group. However, each child is different and this generalization does not apply to all children within these groups.
Can I use Hemi-Sync if a Child has a Hearing Impairment, or is Missing a Part of the Brain?
Many children who are deaf, have a unilateral hearing loss, or absence of a brain structure such as the corpus callosum appear to respond to Hemi-Sync. The best way to find out with a specific child is to use the sounds over a period of time and observe responses. There is a lot we don’t know about how the ear and brain process Hemi-Sync sounds. The primary frequencies carrying the Hemi-Sync signal in many Metamusic tapes are low frequency sounds in the range of 60-150 Hz. Many children with severe hearing impairment have better hearing for these low frequencies.
Are There Hemi-Sync Recordings for Older Children and Adults?
Metamusic is enjoyed by both children and adults and is the most appropriate type of Hemi-Sync to use as a background recording in the learning environment. There are, however, hundreds of specialized recordings that blend Hemi-Sync sounds with a soft pink-sound background that is similar to ocean surf. Most of these include a spoken sound track to guide the listener in the intended purpose of the recording. These tapes are designed for adults. Some are appropriate for older children and adolescents. These tapes include support for deep relaxation, inner healing, improved memory and learning, enhanced immune function, pregnancy and child birth, stroke recovery, surgery and chemotherapy.
Do I need Special Equipment to Use Hemi-Sync?
Hemi-Sync sounds are created from two slightly different sound frequencies on both tracks of a stereo tape. Therefore, you must play it back on a stereo cassette or CD player. A simple stereo “boom box” will work if you are using it for only 1 or 2 people. If you are using it for yourself or an older child, you could also use a small Walkman™ unit with headphones. You can also c
The boom box can be placed in front or behind the child. It is very important that the child be “between the speakers”. Do not place the speakers to the side of the listener or have them in a different room of the house. A “boom box” or cassette player with continuous auto-reverse or CD player with a repeat function are very helpful since the recording can be programmed to play continuously.
Often Should I Play a Hemi-Sync Recording?
There are no fixed rules for the amount of time to play a tape for the child or yourself. The tapes become more effective when they are used frequently. Hemi-Sync sounds are like training wheels on a bicycle. The more you use a Hemi-Sync tape, the more your body and brain will recognize the inner feelings and changes assisted by the tape. The brain will actually learn how to reproduce these patterns by itself. Initially let the child be your guide. Some children want a tape on a lot. Others will be quite interested initially and then tune it out. Contrast is also needed for learning. So don’t play a Hemi-Sync tape all day.
Choose quiet times when Hemi-Sync can support the general activity you have selected. The tapes are especially effective at mealtimes, while reading your child a story or looking at a book, while studying, or other similar times when quiet focus of attention is an advantage.
Some tapes can be played during a naptime or at night. Don’t use the same tape for both sleep and non-sleeping activities.
There Research on Hemi-Sync? Where Can I Get More
Hemi-Sync has been studied empirically and
anecdotally for more than 20 years. With the current
emphasis on basic and clinical research, more studies
are available showing measurable changes in brain
wave and behavioral patterns. The Monroe Institute
provides a series of papers documenting basic and applied research with binaural beats and Hemi-Sync signals. Included are detailed papers on Binaural Beats and the Hemi-Sync Process that provides a theoretical perspective and graphic illustrations of this sound technology. The section on Research Articles at the Monroe Institute website provides a series of annecdotal and research papers on the use of Hemi-Sync recordings. The book, Focusing the Whole Brain: Transforming Your Life with Hemispheric Synchronization edited by Ronald Russell describes how professionals in many fields use Hemi-Sync with their patients and clients.
What Are Specific Examples of The Different Types of Hemi-Sync Recordings?
• Relaxed Focus
Metamusic Inner Journey
Metamusic Midsummer Night
Metamusic Waves of Love
Metamusic River Dawn: Piano Meditations
Metamusic Baroque Gardens
Metamusic Einstein’s Dream
Metamusic Spring at Roberts Mountain
Metamusic Lightfall for Focus & Concentration
Robbie the Rabbit
Metamusic Sleeping Through the Rain
Deep 10 Relaxation
Where Can I Purchase Hemi-Sync Recordings?
Hemi-Sync recordings are available in some larger or speciality bookstores. They can also be purchased from the New Visions Mealtimes catalog (800-606-7112) or from Monroe Products (800-541-2488 or www.hemi-sync.com).
Evans Morris, Ph.D.
1124 Roberts Mountain Road
Faber, Virginia 22938
This paper is a working
draft and multiple copies may not be reproduced
without prior written permission of the author
© Suzanne Evans Morris, 2003 All Rights Reserved