The term “science” gets slipped in, tossed out, and thrown around with abandon these days, but we don’t take it lightly here at Brain.fm. Not only does science serve as the foundation for our functional music, but our science predates Brain.fm. Thus, we have a whole section committed to debriefing our users about our research and technology.
Brain.fm’s evolution from our very first ever beta product to the patented functional music we have in service today is attributed to an entirely research-based data-driven approach.
Recognized for our commitment to a high scientific standard, Brain.fm received funding from the National Science Foundation to explore the always-expanding potential of what functional music can do for us and our high-achieving brains.
What kind of research?
EEG tests. Brain.fm has conducted EEG tests to measure brain activity while subjects have listened to our functional music.
- Think: What regions of the brain light up when users listen to Brain.fm music?
Behavioral research. While seeing the effects of our music play out on an EEG is one thing, Brain.fm has also conducted large-scale behavioral studies that have measured the actual outcome of listening to our functional music.
- Think: How does Brain.fm music affect a participant’s performance on a test? How did listening to our music change the amount of time a subject stayed on a super boring task (even when they could quit at any time)?
- (If the last one piqued your interest, participants who listened to the background music WITH Brain.fm modulation stayed on their (super boring) task 39% longer than those who listened to the same music without the Brain.fm modulation. )
All of our studies have a placebo group. In this case, the placebo group or “sugar pill” is the same background music without the Brain.fm modulation (our “special sauce”). Using a placebo group is the surest way to determine that it’s our patented technology (“special sauce”) that locks your neurons into the desired mental state and nothing else.
Alright, spill. What’s the “secret sauce”?
The secret sauce is an application of a specific range of modulations to our underlying music. This acoustic feature induces neural phase-locking, which means there’s syncing of neural activity across the brain, literally “locking” your neurons into the desired cognitive state, such as one of sustained focus or relaxation, or even deep sleep.
Since then, we’ve added additional features to protect your focus from everyday distractions. Nevertheless, it’s our patented neural phase-locking technology that makes Brain.fm music change your behavior on a neuronal level and how we’ve leveled up from the rest of the “focus music” you’ll find on the market today.
Is that the humming I’m hearing?
Short answer: Yes. If you hear slight distortions or fluctuations, that’s the result of the Brain.fm modulation (“secret sauce”) we’re applying to the underlying music. In some cases, we’ve used these things called low-pass filters to mask high frequencies that can be either distracting or arousing (not fantastic for sleep or focus). Any combination of these factors can result in a sound sounding a little muted.
If you’re interested in what modulation rates we use for each of our mental states, see below.
|Mental State||Modulation Rate|
|Sleep||Delta Waves / .25 - 1Hz|
|Meditation||Theta Waves / 4-8Hz|
|Relax||Alpha Waves / 6-10Hz|
|Focus||High Alpha & Beta Waves / 12 - 20Hz|
So, how does Brain.fm music match up against _______ ?
We’ve tested our Brain.fm music against both silence and pink noise, and it’s performed better than either of these conditions for most people. If you’re one of the few who prefers silence (and has managed to come upon it in some quiet corner of the world...a cornfield perhaps?), you have our blessings. If you’re in public, like a cafe or an airport, Brain.fm is generally a much better solution than the background noises with its voices and intermittent distracting events (clinking cups, footsteps, the occasional sparring that occurs between squirrels from opposite sides of town, etc.)
While earplugs or headphones reduce some sound passing through your ears, this does not prevent most distractions. What makes a sound distracting is less about the loudness and more about the nature of the sound, such as its predictability. (This might explain why someone quietly giggling in a library can be so distracting.)
Reducing distractive events requires a “masking” sound: a feature that covers up the external noises with a different sound but doesn’t flag your attention. We’ve developed and implemented that masking technology into Brain.fm music to account for that.
C. Binaural Beats
Binaural beats use stereo separation to create “phantom” modulation, which means the left and right ear are each fed slightly different frequencies with the hopes that your brain will perceive it as a single tone. It’s not music (unless you have robot blood in your lineage, that is), and, most importantly, there aren’t any studies to prove its efficacy with anything.
Brain.fm music, on the other hand, has undergone intensive experiential testing. In addition to its research-backed neural phase-locking tech, Brain.fm utilizes other proprietary sound features to help you reach particular cognitive states. For example, our sleep music uses 3D spatialization to produce a “rocking effect” while you doze off, and our focus music filters out high frequencies that would otherwise be distracting.
TL;DR Brain.fm’s patented technology wins every round.
We thought you’d never ask. Click on any of the links below to read our white papers.
Modulation in background music influences sustained attention
Note that we have a couple more white papers in the submission pipeline, and we’re always conducting more research, so be sure to check back in a few & see our paper trail grow...
Brain.fm & Mental Health
Here at Brain.fm, we are often asked about our music’s effects for every ailment under the sun. While we wish we had more concrete feedback (and the unlimited funding to run experiments on all of these conditions and more), we cannot make any claims about the usage of Brain.fm as a treatment for any mental disorders or physiological illnesses, including those discussed in more detail below.
Can Brain.fm help with ADHD?
Since we have not conducted a clinical trial with diagnosed ADHD patients, we cannot make any definitive claims about Brain.fm music’s effects on ADHD symptoms. That said, we had participants in our most recent Sustained Attention study fill out an ASRS (Adult Self-Report for ADHD symptomaticity) to determine which music settings are better for people who exhibit ADHD-like traits. We are now in the process of integrating these findings into how we organize the user interface.
Can Brain.fm help with Alzheimer’s?
While we are looking to grow in this field (and have some exciting leads on the positive effect of increased gamma modulation), we’re still very much in the speculative stages of any research. Thus, we cannot make any claims about our music’s effect on dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Can Brain.fm help with Anxiety or Depression?
As stated above, we refrain from making any claims about the medical or psychiatric application for anxiety or depressive symptoms because we have not explicitly tested for these conditions.
Our research does show, however, that Brain.fm can help with productivity woes. In that regard, Brain.fm may be helpful in cases where the anxiety or depression is caused by a lack of productivity (e.g., if you’re anxious about not getting your work done on time.)
Is Brain.fm considered music therapy or treatment?
Brain.fm was not built for therapeutic purposes, and we cannot make any claims about using it as a medical treatment or replacement for music therapy. Brain.fm music works by synchronizing brain activity to support specific mental states. It is not intended to build new neural pathways directly as might be the goal in music therapy.
Can Brain.fm help with Autism?
As stated above, we did not design Brain.fm for therapeutic purposes; thus, we cannot make any claims about its effects on ASD. (Though this would make a fascinating study in the future, to be sure.)
Does Brain.fm impact Tinnitus?
While you may find that some of the tracks mask your tinnitus, we do not have any case studies or conducted any other experimentation (so far) to determine which, if any, of our sessions could help with Tinnitus symptoms.
Will Brain.fm trigger my epilepsy?
We do not believe Brain.fm music is any more likely to trigger epilepsy than any other kind of music.