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Scientists are creating music to unlock your brain’s potential

Soon, parents may be able to prescribe music to their kids to help them focus.

DAN CLARK: So from an evolutionary perspective 10,000/20,000 years ago distractions actually kept us alive. When you're sleeping in your cave or in a village, it could be a tiger coming to eat you or a villager trying to attack you.

And 10,000 or 20,000 years ago those things, paying attention to— the people that could understand those patterns were the people that lived. In today's society fast forwarding now we live in so many distractions, we have so many things coming at us, but none of them are life or death, so everything is accentuated because of that.

And what a lot of our music does it actually starts fundamentally and how to balance your brain or how to almost take advantage of those evolutionary principles, and we use that as a starting point and we layer our music on top of that from there.

So, what's really important about our company is that we are science first. So what that means is we take it seriously; in every single thing that we do we try to validate with science. One of the really exciting things about our focus product specifically is we have a grant from the National Science Foundation to help us evaluate if this can be a preliminary step, a combination, or a complete replacement for ADD and ADHD medications. It's with the same kind of the scientific rigor that we also apply for our relax or meditation and our sleep product.
Basically the ADD and the ADHD studies contain: how do we replicate the same kinds of intense focus that these drugs do, but on demand and in a more controlled environment? So when you take these different kinds of medications they last for a certain period of time, and that's not always needed. Sometimes you just need 30 minutes or an hour, maybe two hours of intense focus and then when you're done you can stop. And really what we're doing is we're using FMRI EEG data to help us validate that this is something that can peak that state on demand with no use of drugs and just the neural phase-locking in our music.

And the reason I'm passionate about it is because there is so many people in the world, and let alone just America, that are having challenges with ADD, ADHD. Right now we prescribe so much medication to kids that's very close to cocaine, and what's happening is we're in this cycle of prescribing. Now, I'm not trying to erase those drugs. What we're trying to do is actually give someone another option, because right now you have ADHD, you have these problems, you're a parent, you just want your kid to study, to focus, to do well. And what other options do you have?

It's a really big deal because if we can help people have another option we can be a preliminary step, we can be a combination or we can be a replacement altogether, and have someone be able to control this advanced focus on demand is extremely important because of that reason. I think as we move forward as a culture it's really about just having choices at the end of the day. And what Brain.fm is is a brand new choice that people have to be able to have that effect that they're looking for.

So Brain.fm we create functional music to help you focus, relax and sleep better. It's all backed by science research and evidence and the continual improvement of that. So what that basically means is how do we produce music that is designed for mental states from the ground up? And what we do is we actually start with a mental state in mind and we have a brain protocol and we craft music around with that. So at the end of the day you're just listening to normal music that has characteristics specifically designed to help you get your mental state on demand.

So when you listen to our music you'll hear all different kinds of genres of music; we have electronic, we have Mozart, we have piano, we even have low-fi. And what the secret is is actually the neural phase-locking, which is a patent process we've developed, to create these characteristics that encourage your brain to arrive at that mental state as fast as possible.

You can think of neural phase-locking as actually a combination of a lot of different principles that create these characteristics in your brain. And what happens is when you're listening to music (or really just right now) your brain is firing almost like a Christmas tree. So when you plug one in it's all blinking at random different times, and what our music does is it aligns all of those blinking lights to blink at the same time to get there into that state, and then as long as you're listening to the music stay in that state for the rest of your period.

So, I think building Brain.fm we have to be careful, because what we're doing is we're introducing a new tool that has the capability to help a lot of people, but can also be viewed in a way that isn't really the intention. We're trying to help people, no matter what language you speak, no matter how much money you make, to be a better person on demand. And there is a lot of regulations doing that, some are from critics saying like "Hey this is something that can't be done because it's been tried before," some of it is maybe from the government, some of it is from all these different things. We have a consumer side, but we also have a medical side. And I think it's really important that we view this in a way that is actually an indicator or a barrier that we have to rise up and meet and exceed. So it's not just about "Aw, man, this is annoying," this is something that people are cautious of, I welcome that. I want to take someone's curiosity or skepticism and match that and explode it. And how do we use this as a way to conduct our company and our future company in a way that aligns with those principles so that we're always testing our own product first before we're told, we're always offering information and data before someone is telling us to do so, and we are the ones leading the charge or the release of this information and really building upon it because we know that that's going to make us better.

  • Instead of prescribing medications to kids with ADD or ADHD, Clark and his team at Brain.fm are looking to music as another option for treatment.
  • Through a grant from the National Science Foundation, the company is developing music that features "neural-phase locking" — a combination of different principles that create specific characteristics in the brain, such as increased concentration or relaxation.
  • As long as they're listening to the music, the neural phase-locking aspect of Brain.fm's tunes has the potential to keep people focused.

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