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Brainwave entrainment was initially identified in the year 1934, but the effects have been noted as far back as Ptolemy.
Soon after the discovery of alpha brainwaves in 1929 by Hans Berger, scientists found the brainwave strength could be moved or driven past its natural frequency by way of flickering lights. Called photic-driving, this was a very unique way to describe brainwave entrainment using light stimulation. Then in 1942, Morison and Dempsey found that repetitive stimulation could produce entrainment. Dr. Chatrain observed in 1959 that auditory entrainment responds to clicks at 15 per second.
Then by the time the 1960s had arrived, the entrainment was seen more as a useful tool than just a simple phenomenon in the brain. M.S. Sadove was an anesthesiologist who used photic stimulation to lessen the amount of anesthesia that was needed by patients before surgery. Bernard Margolis later published articles on brainwave entrainment that were being used for dental procedures, less anesthesia meant less bleeding and gagging, and a reduction in overall anxiety.
Then in 1973, Scientific American posted an article by Dr. Gerald Oster, and his discovery of combining two pure tones that he called monaural and binaural beats, By comparing these two beats, Oster was able to show that monaural beats elicited stronger cortical response, otherwise known as electrical activity that was responsible for entrainment. He concluded binaural beats produced little in the way of neural response because the depth was 3 db or only 1/10th the volume of a whisper.
As the 1980s approached, Dr. Glen Solomon, Dr. Norman Shealy, and other respected researchers continued studies on the effects of the brainwaves for serotonin, headache relief, and general relaxation. The landmark book MegaBrain, by Michael Hutchison, was released in 1981 and outlined all the possibilities of using entrainment for faster learning and meditation. That same year Tsuyoshi Inouye working at the Department of Neuropsychiatry in Osaka Medical School found photic stimulation created cerebral synchronization. Shealy later went on to confirm the effect, stating photic stimulation was able to synchronize over 5,000 patients. Then in 1984 Dr. Brockopp studied audio visual stimulation of the brain and hemispheric synchronization that occurring during EGG monitoring. He later stated that by inducing the hemispheric coherence, that machine could contribute to improving the intellectual functions of the brain.
David Siever confirmed in 1981 a study by Arturo Manns, on the effectiveness of the isochronic tones.
Studies then continued well into the 1990s with researchers Dr, Carter and Dr. Russell. They explored the potential of using entrainment with learning disorders and ADD. During the 1990s, research was conducted on the value of the brainwave entrainment as a helpful aid for chronic fatigue, depression, PMS, hypertension, and other different disorders. Research still continues today, as Dr. Thomas Budzynski, Michael Joyce, and David Siever work on new studies. Modern clinical EEG systems now come with entrainment devices installed.
With well over 80 years of consistent research into brainwave entrainment, many people still question why that method is not better known. There are many reasons as to why this particular research is not common knowledge, one in particular is that the pharmaceutical giants can not capitalize on the technique, so if brainwave entrainment does not produce enough profits to be made, they tend to focus elsewhere. Additionally, this equipment used for the brainwave entrainment tends to be on the expensive side. Despite all the solid scientific, anecdotal, and empirical evidence, many are still skeptical of brain training and entrainment. Every day however, more and more psychologists, coaches, teachers, and health clinics are discovering that brainwave entrainment can be especially useful.