The brain is a powerful thing. Without it, our bodies would cease to function, and we would be worthless lumps of gooey flesh. We obviously need our brains, but sometimes they don’t quite work the way we want them to. This is where the new app for the iPhone, Ubrain, comes in.
Developed by Digital Reality, and given a huge thumbs up by one of the most well known DJ’s in the world, Paul van Dyk, Ubrain helps change the brain by way of binaural beats. To put it simply, binaural beats are low frequency sound waves that can stimulate different parts of the brain and bring about physiological changes. Sounds complicated, right? Sort of, but Ubrain makes it really easy actually, and with a damn clever marketing campaign.
To use binaural beats, all you have to do is use headphones that will allow you to listen to a binaural beat and you’re there. The main difference is the frequency that’s used because each one will bring about different changes and feelings. It should also be said that the usage of binaural beats have been around for a long time. Way back in 1839, ages before you or I were even thought of, a Prussian physicist and meteorologist, Heinrich Wilhelm Dove, discovered the technique. Granted, they didn’t become popular until the late 20th century, but clearly the man was way ahead of his time. Currently neurophysiologists are particularly interested in them because of how they can alter the waves of the brain and do things like help reduce stress, anxiety, and even help individuals concentrate better (buh-bye ADD meds?).
I was particularly interested in this app mainly due to the fact that, since 2001, and after a traumatic event that happened to me, I’ve suffered from anxiety. To get specific, I have panic disorder with some agoraphobia. Panic disorder can be very frustrating, very scary, and very debilitating. At the onset of my problems, doctors prescribed me a cocktail of meds, but I stopped taking them after a few months. I was fortunate in finding one way to help keep away panic attacks when I felt them coming, but since I’ve experienced the horror that is a panic attack, I’m always afraid of when the next one will hit. Upon hearing that using binaural beats can help alleviate the feelings of anxiety, I knew I had to give it a shot.
Initially the app was a little difficult to navigate, but that’s because there are few options on the user interface. Having fewer options isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. To make something cluttered and over complicated would’ve ruined this app. Like I said before, binaural beats are only effective when using a headset, so don’t think that you can get relaxed, or even energized by simply holding the iPhone up to your ear or putting the speaker on. It simply will do nothing for you. For those who have music loaded on to their phones, they have the option of either listening to the beats in the app, or having them mixed in with their favorite songs. This can be handy when you want to listen to, oh I don’t know, Rage Against the Machine, but you need to focus on studying for a math final. While the sweet, sweet sounds of RATM are enough to amp you up, I personally would find it a little difficult to do that whole concentration bit. See how Ubrain is already handy?
The minimum length of time you can listen to one of their “digital tonics” is 15 minutes. Each one has its own maximum length of time, and, as far as I know, you can do this fairly often. I didn’t come across a warning label that said “Use for 15 minutes every 4 hours, or as needed.” For those of you who have a touch of insomnia like I do, there is a mode for you to say that you want to go to sleep, and that you need to be relaxed. There’s even one for getting in the mood to get your groove on with your guy or lady friend. No really. I’m not making this up. There is pretty much an option for anything: concentration, getting you excited/alert, and more.
Here is the only problem I can see with Ubrain: all of us are wired differently. We all have different brain chemistries, and there are tons of individuals out there who have to use meds to alter or correct some things with the brain. Now, while I personally don’t have any problem with who does or doesn’t have a prescription for Prozac, what binaural beats does for me, it might not do the same thing for you. See what I mean? That being said, I highly recommend this for anybody who does suffer from an anxiety disorder, who are under a lot of stress, or simply for those who are curious about it. This app isn’t meant to take the place of any prescriptions you are on, or any professional help you are currently receiving, so please don’t stop what you are doing by thinking that this app is going to fix everything. It won’t. Think of this as an enhancement to whatever treatment you are currently receiving.
Ubrain is a great little app, and for $4.99, it does much more than some of the other things out there in the App Store. Don’t have an iPhone? No problem. It’s also available for the iPod Touch and the iPad (Android too, but honestly, who even has one?). Just don’t forget those headphones! According to the website, Ubrain will be coming to the Mac, PSP, and Samsung devices soon, but no release date or expected arrival has been given.