Infoscience

Journal article

Binaural beats increase interhemispheric alpha-band coherence between auditory cortices

Binaural beats (BBs) are an auditory illusion occurring when two tones of slightly different frequency are presented separately to each ear. BBs have been suggested to alter physiological and cognitive processes through synchronization of the brain hemispheres. To test this, we recorded electroencephalograms (EEG) at rest and while participants listened to BBs or a monaural control condition during which both tones were presented to both ears. We calculated for each condition the interhemispheric coherence, which expressed the synchrony between neural oscillations of both hemispheres. Compared to monaural beats and resting state, BBs enhanced interhemispheric coherence between the auditory cortices. Beat frequencies in the alpha (10 Hz) and theta (4 Hz) frequency range both increased interhemispheric coherence selectively at alpha frequencies. In a second experiment, we evaluated whether this coherence increase has a behavioral aftereffect on binaural listening. No effects were observed in a dichotic digit task performed immediately after BBs presentation. Our results suggest that BBs enhance alpha-band oscillation synchrony between the auditory cortices during auditory stimulation. This effect seems to reflect binaural integration rather than entrainment.

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