Since becoming a software engineer I've enjoyed the feeling of putting my headphones on, turning on some music, and getting into a flow state. In doing so I've listened to several different genres of music ranging from classical to electronic to lo-fi hip-hop. I still enjoy the variability of listening to different genres of music, but recently I've started to listen to binaural beats while working and have found them to be quite beneficial.
What are Binaural Beats?
I initially heard about binaural beats on the Flow State podcast a couple years ago and was intrigued by the idea of using sound to alter your brainwaves. I thought they were kind of interesting but didn't think much of them until I heard Andrew Huberman mention them in an interview with Lex Fridman. At that point I did a bit more research and decided to give them a try more consistently.
Simply speaking a binaural beat is an illusion created by the brain when you listen to two tones with slightly different frequencies at the same time. I'll be the first to admit that there are a lot of claims out there around binaural beats that are not backed by science. However, there is some research that suggests that binaural beats can help with focus and attention. I'm not going to dive into the research in this post, but I think this video by Andrew Huberman does a good job of explaining the science behind binaural beats at a high level.
In the video Andrew mentions research indicating that listen to binaural beats that target 40 Hz can help with getting into a state of focus or concentration. He also mentions the use of white, pink, and brown noise to complement binaural beats during periods of concentration.
How do I listen to Binaural Beats?
I've been listening to binaural beats pretty consistently for a couple months and have found them to be helpful. I found an album on Spotify that contains a track at the 40 Hz frequency that I'll use to get into a state of focus. At that point I'll typically listen to the rest of the album which contains tracks at different frequencies. Once I'm in a state of focus I find that I can listen to other types of music without losing the focus that I gained from starting with binarual beats.
Overall I think this is a very personal process and what works for me might not work for everyone. As I mentioned earlier, there isn't a lot of hard evidence on the effects of binaural beats so you're mileage may vary. With that being said I think its worth giving binaural beats a shot if you're someone who is looking to take your ability to concentrate and focus to the next level.