Audio Visual Entrainment (AVE): The Frequently Asked Questions
What is Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE)?
AVE uses eye goggles to flash lights at the eyes and headphones to pulse tones to the ears at various frequencies (from 1 to 25 Hz) in order to influence brainwave activity. The brain speeds up or slows down to follow the stimuli.
What is happening when I use an AVE device?
There are a number of things that are going on when you are using an AVE device:
1) Your EEG activity is being altered – As the AVE frequency changes, so does the frequency in the brain – it’s that easy! For example, our Feeling Better sessions re-stabilize brainwaves by suppressing left frontal alpha while boosting right frontal alpha to normal levels.
2) You are being dissociated – When using AVE, you get drawn into the present moment and let go of thoughts relating to your daily hassles, hectic schedules, paying bills, worries, threats or anxieties and stop the unhealthy mental “chatter.” Dissociation involves a “disconnection” of self from thoughts and body awareness, as is experienced during deep meditation. Dissociation begins in four to eight minutes from properly applied AVE.
3) Your limbic system is being stabilised – Your body is calmed, your breathing becomes rhythmic, your hands warm and your muscles relax.
4) A number of neurotransmitters are being produced – People with depressed mood have low levels of serotonin and noradrenaline. AVE boosts brain levels of serotonin, and noradrenaline to improve overall well-being.
5) Your cerebral blood flow (CBF) is being increased – CBF is associated with many forms of psychological distress, including anxiety, depression, attentional problems, behaviour disorders and impaired cognitive function. CBF tends to lower as we age often causing cognitive decline. People experiencing depressed mood usually have lower levels of CBF in the left frontal and prefrontal lobes.
How many sessions can I use in a day? Can I use two sessions back-to-back? How often can I use an AVE device?
It depends on what you are using the AVE device for and what results you want to achieve. Typically people will use their AVE device every day or every other day. But you can use it more often if you like. There are many who are using an “SMR” session in the morning and a relaxing “Schumann” session in the afternoon or evening. You can use a session before retiring for the evening or run a session in the middle of the night if you have woken-upand having difficulty getting back to sleep.
How long does it take to see any changes with AVE?
This depends greatly on how often you are using AVE and what you are using it for. Different people using AVE for different purposes will see varied results. Some people notice results after just one session, but typically, people using AVE five times per week notice significant results in two to four weeks.
What are brain waves?
The different parts of our brains communicate with each other by sending tiny electical pulses between themselves – rather like a natural telephone system. The many thousands of tiny electrical pulses are largely in rhythm with each other and travel through the brain in much the same way as water travels in waves – and so they have come to be referred to as “brain waves”. Brain wave patterns can be observed by using electro-encephalography (EEG), when doctors or psychologists attach small sensors to the scalp which are able to detect and record the tiny electrical patterns being generated within the skull. Brain wave patterns are commonly grouped into four different categories: beta, alpha, theta and delta. Each of these brain wave patterns is associated with various states of mind.
Beta waves are quick, low amplitude waves of 14 to 40 pulses per second (Hz). Beta brain wave patterns are generated naturally when in an awake, alert state of consciousness. Beta waves are produced when you perform any task that requires you to concentrate.
Alpha waves oscillate at between 8 and 13 pulses every second. Alpha waves occur during sensorial rest (eg. when the eyes are closed), intellectual relaxation, deep relaxation, meditation or quietening of the mind. Alpha waves are the desired results of meditators. Traditional methods of meditation may require 10 years of practice to produce good alpha waves.
Alpha brain wave rhythms produce:
(1) peaceful feelings
(2) warm hands and feet
(3) a sense of well-being
(4) improved sleep
(5) improved academic performance
(6) increased productivity in the workplace
(7) reduced anxiety
(8) improved immune functioning
It is believed that many creative geniuses, such as Einstein, were in a semi-permanent alpha state. Most of these insightful people had poor grades in school and were thought to be slow learners. Perhaps they were jusr too busy creating to pay attention in class.
Alpha/Theta border waves
At the Alpha/Theta border (7 to 8 pulses per second), people can gain exceptional insights and personally transforming experiences happen. Anger, resentment or buried, troubling memories from childhood dissolve more quickly. Waves at this rate of pulsing are often referred to as being a the Schumann Resonance or State Five Meditation.
Theta waves are between 4 and 8 pulses per second. This is commonly referred to as the dream or “twilight” state. Theta is associated with hypnagogic states, REM and dreaming.
Memory development is enhanced in this state. In the theta brain wave state, memory is improved (particularly long term memory), and access to unconscious material, reveries, free association, sudden insight and creative ideas are increased. It’s a mysterious, elusive state of mind. For a long time researchers couldn’t study this brain state because subjects had difficulty maintaining this state for any period of time without falling asleep (which gene
rates large amounts of theta).
This rhythm is observed when in a sleeping state. As we fall asleep the dominant natural brain wave becomes delta. Delta waves are the slowest of brain waves , with a frequency of 1 to 4 pulses per second. There is growing evidence that individuals may maintain a slightly conscious state while in delta.
All brain wave states serve important mental fu
nctions. However, research has shown that the natural, healthy alpha rhythm is very close to 10 Hz. In today’s lifestyle, the return to a peaceful, mind/body way of being has become difficult to achieve and maintain for any period of time. This difficulty causes disease, maladies and disorders in the body and mind. This is why it is so important for us to re-learn or re-train our brains to get back to higher levels of alpha. Slow alpha, alpha/theta border and theta can indicate slow brain wave mental disorders. Closed-head injury, fibromyalgia, and cognitive impairments all contain excess levels of these slow brain waves.
What intensity setting should I select for the light pulses?
When you begin your session, adjust the intensity (brightness) of the eye-sets to a comfortable level. A brighter intensity level creates more vivid colours and “sharper” patterns. Be careful, however, not to overstimulate. Children and people susceptible to headaches should be careful to keep the intensity lower. Again, the more comfortable your experience, the better your results.
When should I use Beta sessions?
Stimulation at beta frequencies acts as a neuro-stimulant. Beta stimulation in the morning is an excellent way to start the day
and makes an excellent substitute for coffee! Typically, with adequate sleep and without caffeine, waking in the morning is a breeze. Persons who experience anxiety when confronted with new situations may find it helpful to use the beta sessions the first few times. Children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) will find the beta sessions helpful and calming. Beta sessions are commonly used to perk up cognitive functioning, for helping with focusing and are used extensively in treating slow-brain disorders where continuous alpha or theta activity is higher than normal. Beta frequencies have also been helpful in treating inward, non-specific anxiety.
When should I use Alpha sessions?
When you want to experience deep relaxation or practice meditation, you can use any of the alpha sessions. Alpha sessions are particularly helpful where there is outward anxiety and high arousal (can’t sit still) or if you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When using an alpha session for the first time, begin with shorter sessions of 15 to 30 minutes. Do not intake caffeine four hours prior to your session. After a week or more, extend the length of the sessions.
When should I use Theta sessions?
The theta sessions are most effective after a few weeks, when meditation and deep relaxation is achieved during alpha sessions. The theta sessions are effective for learning new emotional responses to situations and for developing and stimulating creativity.
When should I use Delta sessions?
Unlike other sessions, where it is desirable and most beneficial to stay awake, sleep is the desired result for delta sessions. Delta sessions help to turn off the “chatter” that sometimes occurs after a busy day. These sessions are also useful for people experiencing pain. People who experience being in a “mental fog” may try using delta sessions before going to bed and use a beta session during the day. Simply run a delta session when you retire to help you fall asleep, or to experience a more restorative sleep. The session will end automatically. Most users will unconsciously remove the eyeset and headphones sometime during the night.
What about dual or multiple frequency sessions?
SMR/Beta sessions are at frequencies that are used widely in neurofeedback treatments. These sessions help with learning by increasing left brain function to improve attention and relaxing the right brain to reduce hyperactivity and distractibility.
Alpha/Theta mix sessions produce deep, refreshing relaxation. They are also effective in recalling memories.
Delta/Theta session can be used for deep relaxation.
Can AVE promote learning?
Learning may be accelerated when information is presented to the user while in theta, however it requires the user to avoid falling asleep. If this is achieved, the user will enter a brain wave pattern known as Passive-Awareness. This pattern occurs immediately following a session and will last for a few hours. During this time, the user will remain very relaxed or passive and yet still be alert. This is a good time to “hit the books”.
How can I use AVE for visualisation?
For centuries, people have used visualisation and imagery to enhance their quality of life. Imagery is not only related to sight, but also to smell, taste, sound and touch. The clearer one is able to create these senses in one’s imagination, the probability that the desired results will occur is increased dramatically.
Visualisation is a powerful tool for replacing undesirable behaviours or responses. For example, you may have responses of anxiety, fear, anger, eating, smoking or a host of other behaviours when stressed. You would like to replace these behaviours with calmness, acceptance, abstinence or other desirable behaviours. Visualise these new responses using the following procedure:
- Select a theta session.
- Dim the intensity of the eyesets to allow greater conscious control during the session.
- Clearly visualise yourself in the situation where the undesirable response occurs. Visualise the situation up to the point of where the response usually begins. DO NOT visualise your usual response.
- Next visualise yourself with a NEW response. Visualise the remainder of the scene as if it is happening right here, right now. Include new feelings, sensations of touch, sight, dialogue and even smell. Be aware of your breathing and muscle tone. In situations involving loved ones, do your best to feel a sense of closeness, understanding and caring for those persons.
- Visualise this process several times during a session.
- You may slip away from awareness at times during a session. As soon as you regain awareness, begin visualising again.
Although AVE helps to produce vivid imagery, you may have difficulty maintaining conscious control over your guided imagery. This can occur when the lights in the eyeset are too bright and/or the tones are too loud, and the entrainment becomes too prominent and all beta activity is suppressed. The beta component of brainwave activity is necessary to maintain conscious control of guided imagery. In order to achieve and maintain an optimal mix of enhanced imagery and conscious control of your visualisation, it may be helpful to select a lower intensity setting and/or decrease the volume of the tones.
Can I use alcohol, caffeine, or other drugs while using AVE?
When using AVE, it is beneficial to discontinue caffeine as soon as possible. Caffeine produces a general flight-or-fight response, wears down the body, causes insomnia and makes one more reactive – causing distress. It is also recommended that you refrain from using any alcohol or mind-altering drugs when using AVE. If you are on any prescribed medication, we advise you to consult your doctor before considering altering any dosages.
Should I keep my eyes open or closed? Should I stay awake or fall asleep during a session?
Most people prefer to use AVE devices with their eyes closed, however either is fine. Eyes closed allows the user to remain more relaxed and rested. Also, with your eyes closed the eyelids serve as a viewing screen. If you are using a session for visualising or for audio learning, it is advisable to stay awake so that you can consciously choose your imagery. When using AVE for general relaxation, however, most people enjoy falling asleep.
If I want to stay conscious, how can I stay awake?
Often, when using sessions that use an alpha and/or theta frequency (5 to 7 Hz), the user will fall asleep easily. If you want to prevent this, sync you AVE device with your MP3 or use the built-in MP3 (if it is available on your model of device) to listen to relaxing music with your session. Alternatively, if using your AVE device when lying on a bed, hold your hand up while allowing your elbow to rest on the bed. As you drift into sleep, your forearm will fall and this action will allow you to realize that you are falling asleep. Something in the room which generates occasional sounds may also help to keep you in the awareness zone.
What music can I listen to while using an AVE device?
You can use any relaxation, “self-improvement” or creativity CDs & MP3s to enhance your sessions. You can also play any music you enjoy (keeping in mind that you will probably want quiet, slow music for relaxation sessions).
What are binaural beats?
Binaural beats occur when two continuous tones of different pitches are played separately through each side of the headphones. This is typical the sound used during AVE sessions.
What is dissociation?
Dissociation is a process in which feelings, memories, thoughts and physical sensations drift from consciousness. Dissociation can occur when we meditate, exercise, read a good book, drive on a highway, watch a movie or enjoy a sporting event.
What is entrainment?
Entrainment is a process where the brain synchronizes to and resonates with an external stimulus.
Schumann Resonance (a frequency of 7.83 pulses per second) is the number of times per second that naturally occuring electromagnetic radiation (e.g. light) travels around the earth. This calculation is based on the speed of light travelling through free air or a vacuum at roughly 186,273 miles (299,775,730 metres) per second. Scientists have measured electromagnetic radiation moving around the earth’s circumference of 23,789 miles (38,285,533 metres) as 7.83 revolutions per second. It has been observed that many people practising paranormal activities produce a brainwave pattern at the same frequency (rate) as Schumann Resonance.
What is the Sensory Motor Rhythm (SMR)?
SMR is the brainwave rhythm that occurs in an area of the brain known as the sensory motor cortex. Its frequency typically ranges from 12 to 15 pulses per second. The term SMR has now come to be used for any brain wave activity occurring inthe 12 to 15 Hz range, even if its source isn’t in the sensory motor cortex.
What is Soft Off?
Soft Off occurs when the intensity of the lights in the eye-sets and the volume of the tones heard through the devices headphones are simultaneously and slowly lowered which provides a gentle way to end a session.
Who were the first people to discover that the brain waves could be driven by photic stimulation? When did they discover this?
Adrian & Matthews in 1934.
When was AVE first used clinically?
In 1958. The first AVE machine was known as the “Brain Wave Synchronizer”, and was created by Sidney Schneider. It was used primarily for hypnotic induction and reducing pain in patients during dental procedures and for patients undergoing surgery.
What are some of the uses of AVE today?
There are many. For example, it AVE is very effective for ameliorating the effects of Attention ADD (Deficit Disorder). AVE has also been successfully used to relieve symptoms of anxiety, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and trauma. It has been found to be very useful for helping with low brainwave disorders such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS). AVE devices are also valuable for assisting with the onset of sleep and improving the quality of sleep. Senior citizens have shown an improvement in cognition and balance when using AVE.
Are there any side effects to using AVE?
With properly designed equipment, side effects are rare. However mis-use could increase anxiety or make a person “fuzzy-headed.” Fortunately, negative side effects from occasional improper use are never permanent and go away within a day. It is important to use the correct session with a properly designed device to avoid even such short-lived side effects. All AVE devices availble through Peak Health Online are manufactured to the highest production standards and are backed by clinical and scientific research supporting their efficacy.
Does AVE help to reduce Jaw tension and TMJ tension and pain?
Yes. Most persons with myo-fascial, shoulder and/or TMJ (temporomandibular joint pain), will begin to feel relief within 10 minutes into a session.
Does AVE affect cerebral blood flow?
Yes. PET scans and FMRI scans have revealed that most brain dysfunction involves an element of poor cerebral blood flow and metabolism in various regions of the brain. According to research by Fox & Raichle, photic (light) stimulation can increase cerebral blood flow up to 28%.
Will AVE help a tense person to relax?
Yes. Studies indicate that AVE in the alpha brain wave range (7 – 10 Hz) will usually produce profound relaxation within six minutes.
Is AVE like meditation?
It can be, depending on the session used. Studies have shown that most of the time, generally within 10 minutes, AVE can create the same brainwave patterns as Zen meditators achieve with many years of experience.
Can AVE improve mood?
Yes. Generally, AVE devices work on two fronts. A study by Paul Sheely has shown that 30 minutes of white light AVE increases serotonin by 23% and noradrenaline by 18%. Also, depression always shows itself on an EEG as an alpha asymmetry
between the left and right frontal regions of the brain (with more alpha on the left side). Alpha is an “idling” rhythm, so the “happy” left side bows out, which then leaves the depressed/anxious right side in control. This asymmetry can be reduced using our alpha/beta sessions which normalize brain function. The alpha/beta sessions also typically reduce anxiety.
Mind Alive Inc is the world’s leading developer of AVE devices, which are availble in the UK and Europe from Peak Health Online, their authorised dealer. To explore more, simply visit our main website by clicking here