Listen to this music for X minutes to observe Y result. Is there something like that that has been demonstrated to work for general public?

The only example of an experiment that is similar that attempted to find out that I could find is: http://www.zlab.mcgill.ca/home.html

Music, an abstract stimulus, can arouse feelings of euphoria and craving, similar to tangible rewards that involve the striatal dopaminergic system. Using the neurochemical specificity of [11C]raclopride positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, combined with psychophysiological measures of autonomic nervous system activity, we provide direct evidence for endogenous dopamine release in the striatum at peak emotional arousal during music listening.

(Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music)

I know that there's a field of psychology called music therapy that attempts to help people with music. But from what I hear, people's responses to music are hard to quantify and are very subjective. I'm interested if there's a music track out there that has been demonstrated to "entrain" brain activity (shift it from one state to another.) That is, psychoactive music that has been developed not to express an emotion of the artist, but to change cognition and consciousness.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't know much about the topic, but binaural beats---although not exactly music---may be worth looking at. $\endgroup$
    – crsh
    Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 13:13
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    $\begingroup$ If you're interested in binaural beats, try isochronic beats instead. They're more effective than binaural. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 17, 2012 at 4:34
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    $\begingroup$ This question can't be answered without a definition of what constitutes a brain state. It is trivial to demonstrate different neural activity in participants listening to music and controls, so the only question is what kind of activity you're looking for. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 31, 2013 at 10:37
  • $\begingroup$ How is music an "abstract stimulus", as the quote claims? That must have been written by someone who never danced, does not perceive the musicality of human and animal voices, and thinks of composition as a kind of mathematics. $\endgroup$
    – user3116
    Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ I suppose music in general could be called an abstract class of stimuli...maybe we should edit? I see it's a quote, but maybe it deserves a little translation afterward. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


Also see Brainwave audio recordings and beta waves: how do they affect positivity and Is there evidence to suggest that music can trigger release of a particular kind of neurotransmitter??

In short, yes. All forms of stimulation result perceptions based on psychology and culture. It is, however, difficult to predict the way in which even the most simple tones like binaural beats will affect emotions and behaviour, because of past associations and cultural biases.

A recent study not posted on Wikipedia (sorry for lack of citation) shows that binaural beats have no effects on the tested traits of visual attention and task switching by the Color Trails Tests or an ADHD test called "test of variables of attention" when compared with placebo.

Repeated measures analysis of variance was used to analyze pre- and postintervention scores on the Color Trails Tests, Homework Problem Checklist, and the TOVA. The effect of time was significant on the Color Trails Test. However, there were no significant group differences on the Color Trails Test or the TOVA scores postintervention. Parents reported that the study participants had fewer homework problems postintervention.

-Pilot Feasibility Study of Binaural Auditory Beats for Reducing Symptoms of Inattention in Children and Adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

This does not exactly answer your question, as binaural beats may have an effect on the brain which does not have to do with attention or task switching. In that case, further study would need to be done under controls of placebo, multinational and multiculturalism.

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    $\begingroup$ Binaural beats is an example of an illusion. The question refers to psychoactive effects. To illustrate the distinction I draw the parallel in psychoactive drugs: the question is about LSD (truly believing there is a pink elephant) while your answer is at the psilocybin level (I see a familiar object transforming into a pink elephant, amazing, but I know it's not there). Bottom line, although your answer is fascinating, it does not provide an answer to the question. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 13:12

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