Gerald Oster, binaural beats, and New Agers

Jeffrey Sirianni sirianni at
Thu Mar 9 02:49:47 EST 1995

In article <199503090308.WAA06859 at>, x at (Xochi Zen) says:
>        Is Gerald Oster still alive? If so, does he have an e-mail address?
>I'd like to interview him for a book I'm writing about so-called 
>"mind machines." {SNIP}

I'm glad to see that you've extended your discussion from bionet.neuroscience
to our group.  I myself cannot discredit the claims made by mind-machine
advocates, but I cannot accept them yet.
>        Apparently, it is true that such stimulation can entrain neurons 
>in portions of the cortex, but so what?

Here is my view of this type of stimulation.  I have discussed it privately
with another auditory physiologist, but it is time to go public to see what
others familiar with the auditory system feel.

It is pretty much accepted that by delivering certain sounds, the brain can
be driven at an optimal rate.  Such stimuli include clicks (presented at a
rate of 40 per second) and amplitude-modulated tones (modulated at a rate
of 40 Hz).  The scalp potentials are greatest for these types of stimuli
and the response is reduced when the modulation or presentation rate is
deviated above or below 40 Hz.  The visual system exhibits similar behavior,
but I am not up on that system in terms of optimal stimulation rates.

My basic premise is this:  If the auditory system is driven at an optimal rate,
and the neurons in the system are all working in an optimal fashion, what is to
say that there are not neurochemical consequences of this activity?  I understand
that we are crossing systems here, but what is to say that it cannot occur?

I myself have been tinkering with a friend's mind machine for a few months now.

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