The Origins of the Frequency Following Response

One of the natural mechanisms that NuCalm utilizes is the brain’s Frequency Following Response (FFR).  In this response,the brain becomes entrained to an external rhythm–the actual frequency of brain waves changes to mimic the external rhythm. This allows NuCalm to use sophisticated neuroacoustic software to train the brainwave frequency of users to a more relaxed rhythm.

The FFR is a well-established scientific principle, backed by more than 50 years of research. Although the nature and effectiveness of this response has been well established, the actual origin of the FFR is more mysterious. How did humans first develop this response.

The Origins of the Frequency Following Response

Fire, Food, and the First Humans

Some believe the FFR developed partly because of humans’ relationship to fire. Humans arguably didn’t really become human until we had fire. The cooking of food led to changes in our diet and social structure. Humans began eating more meat when they began using fire. They also were able to spend more time being active in the dark thanks to the light of the fire. But remaining active in the evening depended on being around the fire, which meant people spent more time facing one another over the fire. This helped forge new, stronger social bonds among early humans. As a result of these nutrition and social changes, the human brain changed, too. It grew and formed processes dedicated to socialization, storytelling, and other activities that we now identify with relaxation.

And because the fire was a central focus of these changes, people think that the brain became entrained to rhythmic stimuli at this time. It’s an intriguing theory, but it lacks support.

Some claim that the frequency following response has been verified with visual stimuli such as a candle, but this isn’t well supported. If anything, visual attention seems to detract from the FFR. A second major obstacle to this theory is that animals such as cats also show the FFR.

The Sounds of Nature

Another intriguing theory is that FFR has its origins in natural sounds. Many natural sounds have a hypnotic, relaxing effect. The tumbling water in a babbling brook. The waves on the beach. The wind through the leaves of the trees.

These sounds aren’t just rhythmic, they’re complex, and with the different overlapping rhythms, it’s easy to see how these could construct rhythmic structures that produce the same effect as binaural beats.

To modern people, this seems a compelling argument: nature seems inherently relaxing to us. But since we know that the FFR is an old feature of the brain, it makes less sense that there would be an advantage to tuning in and relaxing to these common sounds that might mask dangerous situations.

Locating the Stimuli

Another theory about the origins of FFR is that it’s related to the body’s mechanisms for locating the source of a sound. One way that we locate the direction and distance of a sound is based on the difference between when a sound enters one ear and when it enters the other.

This is an active ability where the brain analyzes the two different sounds to construct a profile of the point of origin. The FFR originates in the superior olivary nucleus, which is also where the sound localization response occurs.

Effectively, we can tell that these two functions are related, but exactly how and why is unknown. This means that the FFR seems to be secondary to the sound localization function, but whether it’s a true feature or a defect like the cone of confusion is unknown.

An Enduring Mystery

Although we don’t know where the FFR comes from, we do know that it works, and that it’s a central part of the reason why NuCalm works. NuCalm has engineered the FFR to be both a highly effective relaxation tool and a genuinely pleasurable musical experience. It utilizes nonlinear patent-pending beats to give a unique experience. Then it integrates them fully into music produced by leading leading producers like Dan Selene. Selene is a 40-year veteran whose work helped set the standards for world music and adult contemporary sounds. His work helps unify the beautiful art and breathtaking science that sets NuCalm apart.

NuCalm is a modern technology, but it reaches back across the ages to access some of the brain’s most ancient and inscrutable functions. That’s why it is able to access and control the body’s autonomic nervous system and disable one of our most basic responses: fear.

If you want to experience the power of this mysterious effect, please contact a local NuCalm provider today.