Effects of binaural beat stimulation on sustained attention in scholar children
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Binaural beats are amplitude-modulated signals occurring when two sine waves with slightly different frequencies are presented separately to either left and right ears. Despite the physical separation of the two sounds, but thanks to the activity of brainstem neurons in the superior olivary nucleus, listeners perceive a rhythmic sound with a beat frequency equal to the difference between the frequencies of the two waves. Binaural beat stimulation within the EEG frequency range seems to be a non-invasive methodology to influence brain activity and to affect states of consciousness, psychomotor performances, and mood. This research is aimed at investigating the effects of binaural beat stimulation (in the EEG low gamma and theta frequency ranges) on performance of a sustained attention task in primary school children. Each participant performed a 10-minutes visual task for three sessions: one involving binaural beats with theta frequency (5 Hz), one with low gamma frequency (40 Hz), and one with no binaural beat stimuli (as control condition). EEG activity was measured for each condition. Results showed that low gamma binaural beat stimulation, compared to theta and control conditions, has improved children’s performance in the sustained attention task. Moreover, low gamma band neural activity increased its amplitude, corresponding to the auditory stimulation in this band. This pattern suggests that this technology may represent a non-invasive method to enhance children’s attention (i.e.: during homework).