22nd February 2017
Digital Drugs: there is no scientific evidence that they cause addiction
Digital drugs, more accurately called binaural beats, are sounds that are thought to be capable of changing brain wave patterns and inducing an altered state of consciousness similar to that effected by taking drugs or achieving a deep state of meditation.
Binaural beats occur when two tones with slightly different frequencies are played together. Without headphones, the slight difference in the two frequencies is perceived by the listener as a single tone that wavers slightly. With headphones, however, the two tones are isolated and the listener hears each frequency clearly in a different ear. As the brain processes the two tones, it must take into account the slight difference between the frequencies. To the listener, this difference is perceived as rhythmic beats inside the head.
The brain processes rhythmic stimulus as electrical impulses. The goal of digital drugs is to purposely control the electrical impulses and encourage the listener’s brain to synchronize its brain waves with the binaural beats. This synchronization, which is achieved by selecting binaural tones within a particular frequency level, is called Frequency Following Response (FFF) and is part of a concept called entrainment. Entrainment, the synchronization of one biological rhythm to another, is not a new concept. It forms the basis for many types of meditation and medical bio-feedback.
The effect of digital drugs are just a myth according to Dr. Qassem Amer, the head of the Statistical Division of the Sharjah Police Research Center (UAE).
In a lecture that he gave on Saturday as part of the Sharjah International Book Fair's Cultural Program, Dr. Amer said that there is no scientific evidence regarding the negative effects of Digital Drugs or the fact that they cause any form of addiction.
"The assumption is that the brain responds to two frequencies entering from the left and right ear in a way that stimulates it and in doing so creating the illusion of an altered state of mind that is similar to the state of mind that follows drugs consumption," he said, adding that international research shows that marketing strategy of these websites include telling users that they must follow a list of instructions including drinking water before listening to the beats to give the illusion of authenticity.
"The prices of these audio tracks range from $3 to $30 and some websites claim that they can create a customized track based on your needs but of course the price is higher, around $100," he said.
Dr. Amer explained that even though videos on the internet show young people going through moments of ecstasy and showing an acceleration in their breath and heart beats, in reality this is not true. He explained that in order to feel any effect, the person needs to be already consuming drugs.
However, historically binaural beats were used to treat certain conditions such as mild depression and anxiety, he explained. He added that the UAE Ministry of Health does not consider digital drugs as real drugs. "The real danger of digital drugs is that young people would be tempted to try real drugs," he said.
At brief, Digital Drugs are just a myth and the UN did not consider even researching it in any of its scientific meetings or world policy meetings.