Heard the new drug?

First, The Chronicle of Higher Education turned up the special music and tuned into the science of brain-boosting binaural beats:

“There are hundreds of examples of students using binaural beats and metamusic to overcome their fears, like helping them get past their ‘I can’ts,’” said the researcher, Barbara Bullard, who’s taught full- and part-time at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif., for more than 43 years. She stops short of calling the music a digital version of drugs, as iDosing enthusiasts claim.

Binaural beats usually involve a synchronization of tones that take advantage of headphones to stimulate the mind in specific ways. Some scholars and publications say their effects are being used to create druglike “highs” in the human brain.

But Ms. Bullard’s students see the music as a study aid for test preparation, and soothing enough to help them deal with personal issues.

And then Switched took a closer look at the iDosing phenomenon:

Surely, I thought, there can’t be more than a handful of kids stupid enough to actually believe in the mind-bending powers of crappy music, right? Wrong.

Over time, though, I recognize that the frequency of the note is diminishing, thus lowering its pitch. What begins as a teeth-grinding buzz eventually dies down into a strangely energetic calm.

Sounds pretty authentic. Problem is, it doesn’t translate into any sort of physiological change, whatsoever. My body doesn’t feel energized, and my thoughts are still moving along at their usual, pachydermal speed.

I’ve, uh, experimented with binaural beats in the past myself – they’re actually pretty effective at pushing one toward certain kinds of relaxed states, kind of like Philip Glass without the music. Drugs, though? Hmmmmmm. Not sure I like the sound of that.

[first article via]