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What to Know About Binaural Beats and Other Auditory Illusions

People looking for more rest and relaxation are increasingly turning to binaural beats.

If you've never heard of them, binaural beats are a form of sound wave therapy in which the right and left ears receive slightly different frequency tones. Yet the brain does not hear two sounds–instead, it perceives just a single tone. The tone, or binaural beat, that a person perceives is the frequency difference between the right and left ear. This makes binaural beats a kind of auditory illusion.

Fans of binaural beats claim they help reduce stress and anxiety, enhance meditation practices, and improve concentration and long-term memory.

Other Forms of Audio Illusions

Binaural beats are far from the only type of sound illusion. But unlike musical ear syndrome and other ailments, they are not a medical issue that should be checked out by a professional.

Other harmless audio illusions like binaural beats include:

  • Phonemic restoration effect: This audio illusion occurs when part of a sound in a word is deleted or masked, but a person still hears the sound that wasn't present. This happens because the brain tends to deal with ambiguity by "hearing" the missing piece of speech.
  • Tritone paradox: This auditory illusion occurs when two sounds that are related by a half octave (also known as a tritone) are played one after the other. Some people hear an ascending pattern, while others hear a descending tone. Even trained musicians will completely disagree on whether the tones are moving up or down in pitch!
  • Audio pareidolia: This auditory illusion occurs when you hear sounds that aren't actually there. This is usually the result of misinterpreting words that are said or hearing words within random noise. Basically, the brain is looking for a pattern it knows in the sound and then processing the closet matching pattern to what it is listening to.
  • Shepard tone illusion: This auditory illusion happens when the so-called Shepard scale is played. It creates a sound illusion that ascends or descends in pitch yet don't seem to sound any higher or lower.
  • Speech to song illusion: This auditory illusion occurs when a phrase that repeats in your mind begins to sound like someone is singing it.

If you're seeking relaxation with binaural beats or are experimenting with auditory illusions, you'll want comfortable, high-quality headphones. SleepPhones® fit both bills. They feature flat speakers in a soft headband so you can wear them in bed, while traveling, and more. They're so comfortable you can even wear them lying on your side. Check them out and learn more below!

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