Audio-visual entrainment (AVE), a subset of brainwave entrainment, uses flashes of lights and pulses of tones to guide the brain into various states of brainwave activity. AVE devices are often termed light and sound machines or mind machines.
AVE is believed to achieve its effects through several mechanisms simultaneously. These include:
- altered EEG activity
- dissociation/hypnotic induction
- limbic stabilization
- improved neurotransmitter production
- altered cerebral blood flow
AVE consists of constant, repetitive stimuli of the proper frequency and sufficient strength to “excite” the thalamus and neocortex. These stimuli do not transfer energy directly into the cortex. The direct transmission of energy from AVE only goes so far as to excite retinal cells in the eyes and pressure-sensitive cilia within the cochlea in the ears. The nerve pathways from the eyes and ears carry the elicited electrical potentials into the thalamus. From there, the entrained electrical activity within the thalamus is “amplified” and distributed throughout other limbic areas and the cerebral cortexes via the cortical thalamic loop. AVE involves the continuous electrical response of the brain in relation to the stimulus frequency plus the mathematical representation (harmonics) of the stimulus wave shape.
Advantages of AVE.
A review of 20 studies on brainwave entrainment found that it is effective in improving cognition and behavioral problems, and alleviating stress and pain.
A migraine headache study involving seven migraine sufferers found that AVE sessions reduced migraine duration from a pretreatment average of six hours to a posttreatment average of 35 minutes. .
Another clinical study showed declines in depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation following a treatment program using AVE. A study by Berg and Siever used audio-visual entrainment devices on women suffering with seasonal affective disorder. Both depression and anxiety symptoms were reduced in participants, as compared to a placebo phase. Participants also reported improvements in their social lives, with increased happiness and sociability, decreased appetite, increased energy and weight loss. A study by Cantor and Stevens found significant decreases in depression scores in participants after four weeks of using AVE.
A study by Thomas and Siever showed that many people with chronic temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) brace up when asked to relax. AVE at 10 Hz produced deep masseter muscle relaxation and finger warming within six minutes. Audio entrainment has shown promise as a singular therapeutic modality for treating jaw tension and TMD pain.
AVE has been used to reduce jaw pain, patient anxiety and heart rate during dental procedures.
AVE and ADD/ADHD
ADD/ADHD is a neurological condition that primarily impairs function in the pre-frontal and frontal regions of the brain. As a result, ADD/ADHD children become impulsive, inattentive and distractible. They also often crave stimulation (good or bad) in an effort to excite their brains.
Many of our best entrepreneurs, visionaries, inventors, artists, musicians, scientists and CEOs of corporations have ADD/ADHD. Richard Branson of the Virgin Group of companies attributes his ADHD to his overwhelming business successes! So, properly channeled, the ADHD-induced drive to stimulate and create can be a powerful asset. Without management and direction, it can be excruciatingly difficult for the ADD/ADHD person to regulate him/herself in school, society and in relationships.
All mental functioning involves an element of arousal – the “awakeness” or alertness of the brain. The level of the brain’s arousal dramatically affects how well a particular mental challenge will be performed. For instance, it is almost impossible to pay attention if the brain is making an abundance of alpha or theta (dreamy) brain waves. It’s just as difficult to fall asleep with excessive beta (alert) brain waves being produced when the eyes are closed.
People with attentional problems such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have particular difficulty shifting their pre-frontal lobes (the part of the brain behind the forehead) into “gear.” The pre-frontal lobes are responsible for attention, intention and logical reasoning. These areas function poorly in the ADD/ADHD brain because of reduced blood flow and the production of too much slow alpha and/or theta brain waves, especially during cognitive (thinking) tasks and passive tasks (reading).
For those with ADD/ADHD, high levels of stimulation have been shown to wake up the pre-frontal lobes, resulting in reduced hyperactivity, improved attention, and less moodiness. People with ADD/ADHD do well with stimulating video games and action sports. Unless the activity is exciting (pushing up arousal), the pre-frontal and frontal lobes quickly lose their attentiveness and activation. Theta and/or alpha brain waves increase dramatically and the person “fogs out.” A lack of stimulation in the typical school setting causes ADD/ADHD children to struggle constantly with mental fog, leading to poor grades.
Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE) benefits the entire brain and body. This is continually evident and demonstrated by those children who have had the opportunity to use AVE in both school and home settings. Many schools have initiated AVE programs for the benefit of their students and staff alike. More and more children are given the opportunity to realize their innate potential that for many would not have been realized. They have come to realize that the biochemical experiment called life is largely a coordinated effort between how life is lived and one’s gene pool. They have personally experienced and realized the profound impact of their innate distress chemicals – versus – their repair chemicals and how AVE has taught them to appreciate the difference. This awareness will influence them to continue making supportive wellness choices in the face of life’s trials and tribulations.
20 years of combined expertise and research by Michael Joyce of Personal Resource Strategies and David Siever of Mind Alive Inc. have shown astounding effects of AVE.
Michael Joyce completed two studies using the DAVID systems to treat ADD/ADHD. His first study involved 30 primary school children from two schools (which was published in the Journal of Neurotherapy) and his second study included 204 children from seven schools, which he completed while he was the Director of Neurotechnology at A Chance to Grow, a special-needs charter school in Minneapolis.
Both studies showed that ADD behaviours were reduced significantly and reading improved with AVE. Michael used the DAVIDs’ unique patented field stimulation ability to generate a different frequency in each hemisphere of the brain. With this technique and a Symptom Survey checklist developed by Michael, he was able to create sessions that could stimulate or calm the left, right or both hemispheres depending on the symptoms checked off by the child’s parents.