Brainwave entrainment using audio-visual stimuli is a treatment that can be used to stabilize and regulate an individual’s level of alertness and wakefulness. These “arousal levels” are controlled by specific areas of the brain. They dictate our performance in multiple areas of everyday life. By stimulating deep brain structures like the thalamus, people who undergo this form of therapy can help to regulate symptoms of ADHD, anxiety, sleep disorders, and other conditions.
Using a special audio headset and glasses, some methods of entrainment involve a combination of stimulatory techniques. These include flashing lights and the playing of sound at different frequencies. This stimuli is used to safely and effectively guide patients into a deeply relaxed state of mind. Brain entrainment can be used to stimulate brain waves, helping people to reduce stress, gain focus, and de-stress.
Come to NeuroZone to receive leading audio-visual entrainment treatment for your brain. Speak to licensed Speech-Language Pathologist Erin Badour CCC-SLP at our office in Playa del Rey and find effective brain training therapies for yourself and your family! Call us at (310) 821-3640 or fill out an inquiry form on our website to book your personal consultation.
The Brain’s Arousal Centers
Brain cells, or neurons, communicate with each other through the chemical messages exchanged by neurotransmitters. Neurons can be stimulated in a number of ways, especially when we are exposed to sensory stimuli. The brain operates on a rhythmic basis. Neural oscillations regulate sensory, motor, and cognitive processes. (1) These processes allow us to perform daily tasks, be aware of our surroundings, and respond to outside stimuli. One of the most important areas of the brain in relation to arousal is the thalamus.
The thalamus is an area of the brain that plays an important role in arousal. Located in the deepest area of the brain, it’s mostly composed of gray matter (neuron cell bodies), and has some white matter (axons; thin fibers that extend from neurons). It communicates directly with the higher cortical areas of the brain where information is further processed to create “feeling” states. It has five main functions:
- Arousal and pain regulation
- Sensory processing (except smell)
- Motor Language function
- Aspects of cognitive function
- Mood and motivation processes (2)
Conditions like schizophrenia and dyslexia have been linked to abnormal entrainment in the brain. (1) Entrainment in therapy occurs when a constant, repetitive stimulus is presented. It must be of sufficient strength to excite the neurons in this area. The thalamus then sends information to the sensory-motor strip in the cortex and associated processing areas such as the visual and auditory cortices in the temporal lobes where the information is processed.
Neural activity can synchronize with sensory rhythms. Brain waves function at certain frequencies, and those frequencies change according to how our brain interprets the world around us. These rhythms are presented in neural entrainment as auditory and visual stimuli. Studies have proposed that this action is a mechanism for the processing of sensory information and selective attention which can continue to take place after treatment has concluded. (3) Selective attention refers to the ability to focus on a particular stimulus, while simultaneously being able to suppress irrelevant or distracting information. This is why auditory-visual entertainment can be effective in helping people with attention deficits stay more focused. Rhythmic stimuli in neural entrainment treatment can include:
- Clicking Sounds – Short, sometimes startling sounds, similar to a metronome.
- Isochronic Tones – Single tones, or pulses, that occur at specific, regular intervals.
- Binaural Beats – An auditory illusion created by the input of two different tones to create a perceived third tone.
- Flashing LED Light – Light displayed in certain patterns to elicit a brain response.
Rhythmic stimuli can be provided in a therapy environment in various forms. At NeuroZone, we use the David Delight device; a small brainwave entrainment device that can induce relaxation, encourage mental clarity, help to relieve stress, improve mood, and contribute to your overall mental wellness.
Who Can Benefit from Entrainment?
Auditory-visual entrainment is suitable for patients with the following conditions:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Sleep Disorders
- Executive Dysfunction
- Learning Disabilities
- Generalized Impaired Cognition
- Regulation Disorders
Read more about the disorders we treat on our website.
Types of Entrainment
Audio-visual entrainment can produce a dissociative state which is a state of deep relaxation. The individual in this state experiences feelings of profound tranquility and contentment. Beneficial neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine are released into the brain. This facilitates a release of stress which allows the brain to return to an optimal state of function. A person’s treatment can be tailored to their specific needs, and can help people:
- Achieve a relaxed state of attention
- Improve alertness
- Encourage calm and mental focus
- Regulate mood patterns
- Fight negative emotions
The auditory portion of entrainment treatment can involve clicks, isochronic tones, or binaural beats. The David Delight device is a portable electronic system for use in auditory-visual entertainment. It consists of a controller block, headphones, and eyewear specifically designed for the treatment. This device can produce isochronic tones (pulse tones). Isochronic tones are evenly spaced tones which turn on and off. They are an effective auditory entrainment method because they elicit a strong auditory evoked response via the thalamus and most people find them more likable than the “click” tone. The device also produces binaural beats, and monaural beats. Meta-analyses point to binaural-beat exposure as an effective way to reduce anxiety levels and affect other aspects of cognition. (3)
Research has shown that clicking sounds produce powerful auditory entrainment. Although they are effective, perceptually, many people report that they do not enjoy the “click” sound indicating that it creates a sense of anxiety. For this reason, we do not use clicks as a mode of entrainment at NeuroZone.
The visual component of auditory-visual stimulation involves wearing a special pair of glasses. These glasses are equipped with several LED lights which are mounted over a silver reflector behind a translucent screen. These lights can be programmed to blink or pulse at a specific frequency. The placement of the lights in the glasses allows for the left and right visual fields of each eye to be individually stimulated where required.
Lux is a measurement of light intensity. The maximum intensity of the lights is about 800 lux, spread out over two square inches per eye. This provides a well-distributed illumination throughout the entire visual field allowing you to move your eyes in any direction (either up or down, left or right) without interfering with the smoothness of the light in the visual field.
Candidates for Auditory-Visual Entrainment
People with underlying conditions like ADHD, subclinical attention difficulties, executive function problems, sleep disturbance, depression, brain fog, anxiety and other mood and attention difficulties are good candidates for neurological entrainment.
Under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider who is trained, auditory, visual entrainment is a very safe and effective method for treating a variety of conditions. However, there are precautions which must be taken for certain populations of individuals. It is recommended that a qualified healthcare professional closely supervise the treatment of the following conditions:
- Individuals with a history of epilepsy or photic epilepsy
- People who have ever had a seizure
- Individuals with a history of brain injury (TBI)
- Individuals with a history of psychiatric illness or mental disorders
At NeuroZone, we care about providing the most effective support for your brain health. We offer everyone who comes to see us a chance to speak to a specialist at a personal consultation. You can discuss the treatments you are interested in and we can give you our recommendations for the procedures we think would benefit you most. This may first include an assessment with qEEG brain mapping, attention assessment, executive function assessment or similar assessment.
Cost of Entrainment in Los Angeles, CA
Your treatment plan at NeuroZone is unique to you. Dr. Badour and her staff will evaluate the cost of your entrainment therapy at your personal consultation. Book your personal consultation and find the right brain training procedure for your needs. Contact our Playa del Rey office at or fill out this form to submit your request.
Find out more about neurofeedback, brain training, and neurological testing by reading the NeuroZone blog! Patients can access the necessary forms here before their visit with our resident speech-language pathologist Erin Badour.
- Calderone DJ, Lakatos P, Butler PD, Castellanos FX. Entrainment of neural oscillations as a modifiable substrate of attention. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 2014;18(6):300-309. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4037370/
- Torrico TJ, Munakomi S. Neuroanatomy, Thalamus. PubMed. Published 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK542184/#:~:text=The%20thalamus%20is%20a%20mostly
- Chaieb L, Wilpert EC, Reber TP, Fell J. Auditory Beat Stimulation and its Effects on Cognition and Mood States. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2015;6(70). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4428073/