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‘Binaural beats’ could treat language disorders

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Specially-created music could one day be used to treat language development disorders, US researchers have said.

The Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas investigated the impact of binaural beats (BB) on language skills.

BB is a sound that occurs when two slightly mismatched pure tones are heard and there is growing interest in using BB as a non-invasive neuromodulation to enhance cognitive performance.

Lead investigator Dr. Yune Lee is Assistant Professor at the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and Director of the Speech, Language, and Music (SLAM) Laboratory.

The researcher said: “This is the first neuroimaging study that elucidated the effect of BB on language processing at the neural level.

“Minimal exposure to beta frequency binaural beat resulted in significantly higher accuracy and faster language response times compared to control sounds”

The EEG study investigated the neural correlates of enhanced sentence comprehension by BB stimulation at beta and gamma frequencies as a follow-up of their seminal behavioural work.

A total of 60 participants were enrolled on the study, with each participant randomly assigned to one of three listening groups of differing frequencies (18-Hz beta BB, 40-Hz gamma BB, or pure-tone baseline) embedded in music.

The articipants first underwent a sentence comprehension practice session, followed by a 10-minute stimulation phase where the frequencies were played.

Thus was immediately followed by the language comprehension task phase.

Results revealedthat participants exposed to 18-Hz beta binaural beats had significantly higher accuracy and faster response times during the comprehension task, particularly for complex sentences.

There was also increased neural entrainment following the beta frequency, which was thought to reduce the processing burden of the subsequent sentence processing.

Lee said:”Furthermore, these results have implications for the potential use of BB in treating developmental language disorders.”

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