Relaxation and meditation CDs have been available for decades, and generations of people have found them beneficial.

But now a new class of brainwave entrainment CDs and downloads has appeared, promising to sharpen your brain and perhaps even increase your mind power.

So, how do they actually work?

All modern brainwave entrainment CDs work on the same principle. When the brain is subjected to the right kind of rhythm, it tends to match the frequency of the stimulus. Researchers have termed this effect ‘entrainment’. Since the brainwave frequency characterizes the state of the brain — meditative/creative, busy, relaxed or asleep — the early brain researchers reasoned that it should be easy to ‘switch on’ deep sleep or meditation with the right kind of rhythmic stimulus.

And that’s exactly what they found. Whether delivered by sound, lights or other means, entrainment provides a simple and effective means of effecting temporary change. With the right meditation CDs, you can literally ‘switch on’ a creative theta state that might otherwise take years of meditation practice to achieve!

This approach characterized the earliest brainwave entrainment CDs created by entrepreuneurs like Bill Harris and Robert Monroe, and has since been popularized by home experimenters and hobbyists as well as professional developers. Using freeware ‘brainwave generator’ software, it is now possible to put together a functioning brainwave entrainment download on your own PC and publish it via the web.

But, while these ‘first generation’ CDs and soundfiles are an effective means of relaxation, they are less successful at reprogramming  your brain in the longer term.

We know that most brains work at less-than-optimal efficiency, displaying lassitude, distraction, addictive behaviours, and a whole range of other ‘glitches’. More ambitious, longer term brainwave programming may seek to alter all of them.

But the living brain is complex and subtle, with a wave state that defies simple modelling. (You might think of it as something like the weather.) You know how your old meditation CDs don’t have the effect they once did? That’s ‘burnout’ — your brain has learnt their stimulus and ceased to respond. To work effectively over the long term, a brainwave program has to operate on many levels at once.

If you want to invest your time in a program that will last, isochronic tones are a must. Unlike binaural beats, isochronic tones enable the developer to deliver stimulation at several different brain rhythms simultaneously, thereby avoiding any such ‘burnout’. They also provide a means to deal with the brain’s natural mode of function, shifting frequencies and modes of stimulation and using stereo sound techniques to promote brainwave synchronization across the two hemispheres.

And here’s a tip — concentrate on brainwave entrainment CDs or high-quality MP3s rather than regular MP3 or YouTube downloads. The quality and bandwidth limitations on lower quality MP3s and YouTube downloads is enough to often strip the benefits of entrainment instantly.

A modern brainwave program like the Brain Evolution System and its remarkable 3P DEAP  does everything possible to deliver extremely high quality, complex stimulation to your brain. And the results can be — well — mindblowing.

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