Like many of you, I’ve always liked to listen to something while I write or study. But as much as I love listening to Ella Fitzgerald or Siouxsie and the Banshees of an evening, the lyrics and phrasing mess up my words and sentence rhythm in my head. I end up writing the lyrics.

I also love classical music. Since the 90’s, there’s been a lot of speculation as to whether listening to (and playing) Mozart and Bach improves brain function. According to a BBC article 8 January 2013 titled “Does Listening to Mozart Really Boost Your Brain Power?” yes it probably will, but so will listening to anything that you find enjoyable. And no, it won’t make your baby a genius. (But if they learn to play an instrument, yes it will bump up their IQ.)

So there I am, boppin’ along to Glenn Gould, getting lots of stuff done, and I get a little cocky. I’m wondering how I can make my brain work even better. That’s when I remembered binaural beats.

Over the years, I’ve learned a bit about binaural beats, isotones, brain entrainment, and had mixed results. Everyone’s experience–like brains–will vary. Mostly, I can get a lot of writing or reading done, which was great in grad school, and great when working on long-winded projects requiring a lot of concentration. I’ll want to stick with a project and keep grooming it, making it better and better. Time flies. Sometimes I feel a little fluttery, but that could be the coffee. Sometimes I couldn’t really say if I felt or performed much differently.


Just like how the deep bends and stress-relieving postures of yoga train your body to relax and expand, brain entrainment is a fascinating–and effective–way to encourage your brain to focus on a task, overcome anxiety and depression, or fall asleep. There is even a frequency (2.0 Hz to be precise) that promotes cell regeneration.

Basically, your brain emits those frequencies when you are already engaged in one of those tasks. So isolating those frequencies and digitally reproducing and then playing them near your brain causes your brain’s frequencies to fall in step, as it were, with the higher frequency.

For copywriting and research, I like to listen to 40Hz Gamma frequencies. This is the concentration aid, the down-the-rabbit-hole feeling of being really excited about your research discoveries and connections. Great for schoolwork and learning retention.

For creative writing, depending on which stage I’m in, creation or editing, I’ll switch between Gamma and Alpha-Theta waves, for “fluid, abstract thinking,” and Beta waves for problem-solving.


Some of these videos, by the way, have an accompanying instrumental track to prevent audio fatigue, but not all. Look in the description of the video with the New Age music you don’t like, and find out what frequencies are being used. Then you can search for a track that is just the beats.

Also note whether the video recommends headphones or not. If you have them use them, but you might still get the benefits without. Also, see what your pets do!

We still don’t know jack about our brains, so we are all guinea pigs to an extent. Listening to these frequencies can sometimes set off undesirable side effects like epilepsy, so listen with caution.

There are no guarantees on this kind of thing. I’m just saying, I wrote all of this while regenerating my cells and using fluid abstract thinking, and it feels damn good.

(Coffee helps too).