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Is there any peer-reviewed scientific evidence supporting positive effects from listening to binaural beats?

If so, what types of binaural beats, and what were the positive effects?

Have any negative effects been documented?

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Is there any peer-reviewed scientific evidence supporting positive effects from listening to binaural beats?

Yes, several. Here are two RSS feeds, which will continuously update, with research articles on binaural beats:

PubMed RSS feed - PubMed (US National Library of Medicine) where "binaural beats" appears in the title or abstract of an article. ("binaural beats"[Title/Abstract])

Cochrane RSS feed - standard search for 'binaural beats'.

This is the only review article I could find:

Chaieb, L., Wilpert, E. C., Reber, T. P., & Fell, J. (2015). Auditory beat stimulation and its effects on cognition and mood states. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 6. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2015.00070

I did not find any articles with a meta-analysis of the extant research.

Several very recent articles add to accumulating evidence for positive effects, under specific conditions, e.g., listening to 15 Hz binaural beats but not 5 Hz binaural beats, and with specific individuals, i.e., not every adult will respond in the same manner depending on several variables, many of which have not yet been delineated.

Anxiety Reduction

Isik, B. K., Esen, A., Büyükerkmen, B., Kilinç, A., & Menziletoglu, D. (2017). Effectiveness of binaural beats in reducing preoperative dental anxiety. British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, 55(6), 571–574. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bjoms.2017.02.014

Heart-Rate Variability (Relaxation)

McConnell, P. A., Froeliger, B., Garland, E. L., Ives, J. C., & Sforzo, G. A. (2014). Auditory driving of the autonomic nervous system: Listening to theta-frequency binaural beats post-exercise increases parasympathetic activation and sympathetic withdrawal. Frontiers in Psychology, 5. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01248

Creativity

Reedijk, S. A., Bolders, A., & Hommel, B. (2013). The impact of binaural beats on creativity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00786

Visuospatial Working Memory

Beauchene, C., Abaid, N., Moran, R., Diana, R. A., & Leonessa, A. (2016). The effect of binaural beats on visuospatial working memory and cortical connectivity. PLOS ONE, 11(11), e0166630. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0166630

Verbal Working Memory

Beauchene, C., Abaid, N., Moran, R., Diana, R. A., & Leonessa, A. (2017). The effect of binaural beats on verbal working memory and cortical connectivity. Journal of Neural Engineering, 14(2), 026014. https://doi.org/10.1088/1741-2552/aa5d67

Cognitive Flexibility

Hommel, B., Sellaro, R., Fischer, R., Borg, S., & Colzato, L. S. (2016). High-frequency binaural beats increase cognitive flexibility: evidence from dual-task crosstalk. Frontiers in Psychology, 7. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01287

Individual Differences

Reedijk, S. A., Bolders, A., Colzato, L. S., & Hommel, B. (2015). Eliminating the attentional blink through binaural beats: a case for tailored cognitive enhancement. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 6, 82. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2015.00082 ("This suggests that the way in which cognitive-enhancement techniques, such as binaural beats, affect cognitive performance depends on inter-individual differences.")

If so, what types of binaural beats, and what were the positive effects?

Please see the articles listed in both RSS feeds. Answering your question with specificity would constitute a review article in itself. ;-)

Have any negative effects been documented?

Not in recent studies where the technique has become more refined based on previous findings. However, I would caution anyone from running out and buying an binaural beats app or the like, unless you know a lot about the topic; you trust the manufacturer; you do not have any potentially contraindicating audiological, psychiatric, neurological, or cognitive impairments or disorders; and you run it by your physician first.

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    Great answer! Could you add an excerpt from the abstract for each cited study as not all of us have access to them? – Narusan Jul 5 '17 at 17:40
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    Thank you Narusan. :O) ... All the 'Frontiers' journals are open source, so you can read the full article using the doi links. The other two articles contain the abstracts on the the linked-to page (doi link). If you cannot access any of these websites, please let me know why, i.e., what kind of error message do you receive? Or what else blocks access for you? – Mark D Worthen PsyD Jul 5 '17 at 20:29
  • The links work now, I have access to all abstracts. Don't ask me what went wrong previously.... It would be great if you could summarise the findings of tue studies though. That would make this answer outstanding. – Narusan Jul 5 '17 at 21:20
  • If StackExchange gives me a raise I will. ... Oh wait. ;^] // On a serious note, I enjoy researching questions of interest, but as the old saying goes, "Time is money". I (and others, I'm sure) have to limit their time spent conducting free research for others, or we won't be able to pay the light bill. – Mark D Worthen PsyD Jul 5 '17 at 23:53

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